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FG disburses N2.75bn as compensation to coastal highway property owners

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

Amid protests against the planned Lagos-Calabar coastal highway, the Federal Government has begin payment of N2.75 billion compensation to property owners affected by the project spanning from channel 0 to channel 3.

It added that other property not captured under this phase would be compensated, saying this is to ameliorate the pains that may have been suffered by the affected property owners along the highway route.

Minister of Works, David Umahi, who flagged off the payment on Wednesday, meanwhile took a swipe at the Presidential candidate of the Labour party, Peter Obi, asking him to publicly apologise for comments made about the Lagos-calabar coastal highway.

He assured that the current administration’s compassionate approach will ensure that individuals who are illegally residing on the coastline despite lacking proper infrastructure and documentation will be compensated.

The Minister, meanwhile, said that “Landmark is simply playing politics with politicians,” adding that “there is nothing to claim.”

The Minister made this statement while clarifying that none of Landmark’s infrastructure is impacted by the coastal development, acknowledging that though Landmark may have sublet the area along its shoreline to some individuals, it never had ownership of the shoreline and the individuals that the shoreline was sublet to are there illegally.

He said, “Mr President says that this development must have two factors. One is the fear of God, the second one is human face and that’s what we have tried to do. We’ve taken hard decisions. In some cases we have followed the gazetted routes. In other cases, we have realigned to the coastal line, majorly. And the coastal line from the shore, 250 metres by the Supreme Court judgement belongs to the federal government.

“I talk in particular about Landmark. There is none of his infrastructure that is affected. I agree that there are some people he sublet the place to, but the shoreline was never given to him by the Oniru family, so these people he sublet to, erected some caravans, makeshifts, so on and so forth within the shoreline. And if you go to the shoreline, you will see a demarcation of what was given to him and you will see a different colour of the sand and you see by reason of the sand filling, the point that the sand is different colour. So, we are dealing these people that he sublet the shoreline to illegally.”

Umahi even challenged Landmark to provide documentation giving him ownership of the shoreline around Landmark. He said, “I’ve asked him to bring his documents and I challenge him and his co-politicians to bring the documents. Let him flash the documents before the press.”

Umahi further stated, “There is no inhumanity meted to Landmark. That matter should be buried. Quote me anywhere that the shoreline was never given to Landmark and we’ve taken back our shoreline, we are passing the road.”

The Works Minister then addressed Peter Obi’s criticism of the demolition of structures in Landmark to make way for the coastal road, saying, “[There was] a similar scenario when His Excellency Peter Obi was governor and he made a statement.

He said, ‘Any infrastructure that stands on the way of road construction must go and there will be no compensation paid.’ That’s what he said. But look at me., by the human face of Renewed Hope Agenda administration, we are even paying for people that are illegally staying on the coastline and do not even have, you know, valid infrastructure and valid documents. That is mercy.

“You know, some people darken counsel without knowledge, there is devil in details. When you condemn people, you bring judgement upon yourself, and that’s what he has done. And I think he is inciting some of the Southeast people that are not well informed. He’s inciting them and he gets them into trouble and he doesn’t go to fight for them.

“Wisdom is a defence. We know one is a defence. But wisdom gives life to those that practise it, and I want our people to have wisdom because I’m involved, and there is no inhumanity meted to Landmark. That matter should be buried because I was there.”

Umahi then said that contrary to Obi’s opinion, the construction of the coastal road would not affect any other ongoing projects in Nigeria, and that, as a matter of fact, more infrastructural projects that were linked to the coastal route had begun in the design stage.

He said, “I’m very happy that the President has directed me to begin the design of one of the you know, spurs linking to this coastal road and that is the Sokoto-Badagry. That was conceived by the president Shagari administration. It’s going to connect the ongoing Lagos-Badagry route that is being done by federal government and state government.

“There is also another route which is the Enugu-Abakili-Ogoja-Cameroon African Trans-Saharan route. The coastal road is also going to connect it. The Sokoto-Badagry is 1,000 kilometres. From the spur of the trans-saharan trade route down to Apo in Abuja, is 461 kilometres. It means anyone that is travelling from Sokoto to Lagos, will do it in about 10 hours, and travelling from southeast to Abuja will do it in a maximum of 5 hours.”

Umahi then urged Obi to commend President Tinubu on the coastal road as he said, “Opposition is not all about, you know, whether you’re right or wrong. When somebody has done something good, you can still criticise while commending the person. And so I ask him to commend Mr. President for this coastal route. And I adjoin those who have taken on him to ask him to apologise publicly, because this Costal route is the good for all of us.”

He spoke about the benefit of the roads on the economy saying, “We talk about an economy that needs foreign investments. These roads are going to be constructed with concrete pavements, which means that there is foreign investment that will come in. This foreign investment will strengthen the naira. It will stabilise the naira.

“I assure Nigerians that this route is for the best interests of Nigeria. And it will have along the corridor a lot of land for tourism we are talking about, for estate development, for industries.”

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