Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has commenced a weeklong massive demolition of illegal structures and clean-up exercise in Kuje area council of Abuja.
The exercise, which is in continuation of the ongoing measures to mitigate proliferation of illegal structures, purportedly obstructing human and vehicular movements in the area, followed months of sensitisation and abatement notices from relevant authorities and endorsement of Kuje stakeholders.
The FCTA officials who were supported by a heavy security team drawn from the military, police and para-military agencies stormed the area at about 10 am on Monday, and cleared roadside encroachments from the notorious tipper garage to the Kuje main market.
During the clean-up exercise, which lasted for about seven hours, hundreds of structures ranging from kiosks, containers, and attachments to stores and worship centres, shanties, and signposts that encroached on the road corridors were pulled down.
However, it was observed that some encroached areas were already cleared by the owners and occupants before the enforcement team arrived for the actual removal.
The senior special assistant to FCT minister on monitoring, inspection, and enforcement Ikharo Attah, during the exercise said the demolition was based on the minister’s directive and the guidance of police commissioner Sunday Babaji and other security heads in the FCT.
Attah explained that the minister has not been comfortable with the nature of Kuje, as the extreme contraventions in multiple places in Kuje, make the area very unsafe, illegal settlements, due to the extreme road encroachment, roadside trading, encroachment of rail corridors, and other contraventions in Kuje.
“The clean-up would be a week-long exercise, as Kuje has been very worrisome in some areas of insecurity. Today, we have been able to address the issue of roadside encroachment from the tipper garage to the main market, we could not enter the forest, but we told them to park that forest is not supposed to be a market while we also touched the fruit market.
“Tomorrow we will be claiming the rail corridor, the entire rail corridor, and keep it safe so children can use it for recreation. We marked Kuje about four months ago and we have been waiting for long, so the word of caution is what they have seen today,” he said.
On the rumoured encroachment of the railway that passed through the area, Attah said Kuje chiefs and indigenes have denied selling the rail corridor to anyone. He said the local residents do not have the right to sell the lands in the area, saying the enforcement team has been asked to reclaim the rail corridor.
A trader who owns a shop in Kuje market, Charity Onu said the illegal structures have caused major obstructions to the access road to the market. Onu said many a time the traders are forced to also sell their products by the roadside, saying patronage has been low due to the obstructions on the road leading to the market.
“Clearing of the road is very good as it will pave a way for people to come inside, but I will like to appeal to the government to give the dislodged roadside traders a new place, where they can do their business,” she said.