SOME automobile technicians in Lagos State have appealed to Gov Akinwunmi Ambode and the State House of Assembly to look into their plight, following the demolition of their workshops.
They made the appeal when the House Committee on Physical Planning and Urban Development, led by the Chairman, Mr Setonji David, visited the affected areas on Thursday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the committee visit was due to a petition earlier sent to the House by the technicians.
The technicians, under the umbrella body of Nigeria Automobile Technician Association (NATA), Lagos State Chapter, said their workshops, located at Babs Animashaun and Coker areas of Surulere, were demolished on Dec 27 and Dec 29, 2016 without prior notice.
They said that their workshops, which were allegedly demolished by officers from the state Ministry of the Environment, were allocated to them by the state Ministry of Transportation.
According to them, properties worth millions of Naira were destroyed in the demolition, including vehicles undergoing repairs in the workshops.
Mr Sheu Adio, the Patron of the technicians at Coker, pleaded with the visiting lawmakers to do something to save them from losing their businesses entirely.
He said: “We have been here for 27 years; we have been paying our taxes, land use charges and other charges. This is where we feed ourselves.
“We want to plead with the government to release this place for us. We have lost almost all our customers after the demolition.
“Our children are going to schools; this is where we get means to feed them. We don’t want them turn to thugs and area boys if we cannot not take care of them again.”
Mr Korede Odufuwa, the Chairman of the technicians at Babs Animashaun, urged the government to protect them from land grabbers, saying that they knew the demolition was not directly from the government.
“We were not given notice; we just saw them demolishing our workshops on Dec 27, 2016. We have been using this place since 30 years ago and it was given to us by the ministry of transportation.
“We have been paying our dues without defaulting. We do not say we are the owners of the land. But we were just told some people won a case in court on the property and the next thing was demolition.
“What was destroyed at the Babs Animashaun Technicians Village was worth over N50 million. My newly constructed public toilets cost me N4.5, and they were also demolished.
“Our hope has been dashed, we plead with the government to save us from land grabbers.”
In his reaction, David said: “The workshop at Coker was at the road setback and I think it is not right for them to continue to stay there.
“For the one at Babs Animashaun, the workshop is like an abandoned area with canal blocked. The safety of the technicians there is not guaranteed.
“We must do something about the place. We cannot allow the place to continue to be like that,” the lawmaker said.
On the allegation that they were not given notice before the demolition, the lawmaker said it was not true.
The lawmaker promised that the Assembly would continue to serve the interest of the people and they would be properly relocated.
He, however, noted that the issue had been taken to court by the owners of the properties.
David said that the government was responsive and would continue to do everything to protect the interests of the residents.