Anambra State Government Demolishes 2,000 Shops in Onitsha Amid Building Collapse Crisis

In response to the recent building collapse on Basden Street in Fegge, Onitsha, the Anambra State Government has undertaken a massive demolition operation, removing over 2,000 shops on Niger Street in Fegge, Onitsha South Local Government Area.

Most of these shops, situated along the banks of the River Niger, were predominantly owned by members of the Sand Miners Association of Anambra State, utilizing them for equipment and operational offices. Additionally, some shops were occupied by petty traders who serviced the sand miners.

These structures, allegedly built with approval from the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), were deemed illegal by the state governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo. During his visit to the area, Soludo emphasized that NIWA lacked the authority to allocate spaces to traders on Anambra land.

Governor Soludo underscored, “The code or bye-laws establishing NIWA gave the organization 100 meters from the banks of the River Niger as a right of easement, but what we are seeing here are illegal structures and should be demolished.”

The demolition exercise comes amidst the state government’s declaration of war on illegal structures, prompted by the Fegge building collapse.

The Chairman of Onitsha South Local Government, Chief Emeka Orji, supervised the demolition, citing the governor’s directives following recurrent building collapses in the area. Despite prior notices issued, some affected individuals claimed they were unaware of the demolition.

While the demolition was underway, affected victims attempted to salvage their equipment and goods. Mrs. Ekeoma Okafor, one of the victims, expressed dismay, alleging vindictiveness and lack of prior notification.

Chief Okechukwu Okoye, the Manager of Lake Petroleum Limited, lamented the loss of over 130 shops and millions of naira worth of equipment, highlighting the absence of prior information about the demolition.

In response to the demolition, NIWA Area Manager Suleiman Nicholas emphasized that the state government should have formally notified the agency before taking action on NIWA’s Right of Way.

The affected area is slated for transformation into a Seaside Resort, featuring green park areas for relaxation and amusement, as part of the government’s efforts to address building collapse issues and ensure compliance with land use regulations in Onitsha South Local Government Area.

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