By Chioma Nnodim
Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, yesterday commenced massive demolition of illegal structures and clean up in Kuje town, of Abuja, the nation’s capital city.
The exercise, which was in continuation to ongoing measures to mitigate proliferation of illegal structures, purportedly obstructing human and vehicular movements in area, followed months of sensitisation and abatement notices from relevant authorities and endorsement of Kuje stakeholders.
Officials of the FCTA backed by heavy security team drawn from the military, Police and para-military agencies stormed the area at about 10 AM and cleared road side 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, attachments to stores and worship centres, shanties and sign posts encroaching on the road corridors.
It was however observed that some encroached areas were cleared by the owners and occupants before the enforcement team arrived for the actual removal.
Speaking with journalists, Senior Special Assistant to FCT Minister on Monitoring, Inspection and Enforcement, Ikharo Attah, said the exercise is under the Minister’s directive and under the guidance of police Commissioner, Sunday Babaji and other security heads in the Territory.
Attah added that the Minister has not been comfortable with the nature of Kuje, as the extreme contraventions in multiple places in Kuje, makes the area very unsafe, illegal settlements, due to the extreme road encroachment, road side trading, encroachment of rail corridors, and other contraventions in Kuje.
According to him, 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 road side encroachment from tipper garage to the main market, we couldn’t 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.
“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.
On the encroachment of the railway, the SSA explains: “Kuje chiefs and indigenes have denied selling the rail corridor to anyone and we have asked them who sold to them, they can’t say. So we have been directed by the Minister to reclaim the rail corridor.
“The Tipper garage, being a notorious place, we will keep coming, and Kuje is now like Gwarinpa.
A trader, Charity Onu, who owns a shop in Kuje market said often than they are forced to bring goods to roadside, patronage is 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 new place, where they can do their business,” she said.