Delta State Government, Monday, commenced demolition of buildings erected along natural waterways as part of its flood control measures across the state in line with the directive of Governor Sheriff Oborevwori.
The exercise which is being carried out by the office of the Delta State Director-General, Special Duties headed by Chief Frank Omare began after weeks of media and public enlightenment on the dangers of blocked waterways with the devastating effect of flooding whenever it rains.
Chief Omare led the amphibious swamp buggies to the area, amid security protection from soldiers drafted from the 3 Battalion, Nigerian Army, Effurun.
He was also accompanied by officials of the Ministry of Urban and Regional Planning and the Ministry of Justice.
Owners of some of the erring houses earlier earmarked by the government for demolition were seen in emergency bid to dismantle their roofs just as many tenants were also sighted hurriedly packing out their belongings apparently in order not to be caught in the web of the demolition.
With swam buggy and heavy-duty bulldozer parts of three buildings, including a yet-to-be-completed church structure and a storey building at Ugboroke community in Uvwie Local Government Area of the state where the major canal that passes through the locality which had been blocked were pulled down.
The demolition exercise started with the pulling down of parts of three buildings, including a yet-to-be-completed church structure and a storey building at Ugboroke in Uvwie Local Government Area of the state.
The blockage caused by the demolished parts of the buildings was believed to be responsible for the annual flooding of houses in the area.
Speaking to journalists, Chief Omare, who during his time as Commissioner for Environment in the administration of former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, said he would follow the mandate given to him without discrimination, adding that several heavy-duty equipment are at work.
The DG Special Duties condemned the deliberate refusal of some persons who built on natural waterways despite the massive awareness for them to remove them.
He emphasized that the purpose of the exercise is for the general good of the people considering the devastating blow done to some parts of the state by flooding in the past.
“What is going on here is that this very building that we are demolishing does not even have buildings approval. This is Ugboroke, whenever it rains, everywhere is flooded. This cannot be allowed. Not because of an individual interest are we going to compromise the interest of millions of Deltans.
“Those blackmailing and destroying the image of the Governor of Delta State should know that we are not doing what we doing based on sentiment. What we are doing is going to touch everywhere because the falling away of the yellow leaves is a warning to the new ones.
“Today is the 7th of August, and we are going to touch every area in the State. This is why we are here. We have about seven equipment (bulldozers) scattered all over Warri South and Uvwie Local Government Areas. What we have done here, we are going to do in all other local governments.
“So, this is a warning to every other person. So, nobody should tell you that he is working with Governor Sheriff Oborivwori and you should give him one thousand or one million naira and your building will be saved. Or you are working for Frank Omare, give me two hundred thousand naira and your building will be spared. In fact arrest anybody that wants to compromise because this is the way to go.
“More than 40 percent of houses in this area do not have a septic tank and this is wrong. We feel that this is the way to go.
“We are constructing a massive drainage system in Delta State to connect all drains. Hence, the need to remove all structures hampering the flow of water.
“The Ministry of Urban Renewal are the approving authority. I want to see your five-meter approval from the drainage and building. Officials of the Ministry of Urban Renewal are all here with me and we are doing the right thing.
“We are going to be bold, focused, and we are going to ensure that nobody is victimized and nobody should victimize Government because these are task payers’ money that we are using to bring equipment for this work. The rains and flooding are coming.
“Delta State Government is taking the cost of bringing in all this equipment to ensure that at the end of the day, everybody is happy.
“The Governor of Delta State is a street man. He understands most of these areas, so nobody can tell him what to do. I am completely taking responsibility for what is happening here today. We are ready for those who think they can threaten.
“What is going on here now is a warning to others and that is why I said the falling is the yellow leaves is a warning to the new ones.
“We are very ready to do the needful. Any building that has approval, I want to see that approval. Whether they are wrongly approved or induced, we are going to take responsibility. And this is why the Ministry is here to tell me how they could have approved a building under the waterways. All these are administrative things that we need to handle,” said Omare.
Some affected persons particularly one of the residents, whose father’s building was affected, David Adu, expressed happiness that the annual flooding in the area will subside with the demolition and dredging of the canal.
“I’m happy the demolition is ongoing even though my father’s house is affected. I only ask they allow us to remove our items from the building before total demolition. They should ensure they strictly follow the master plan by bringing back the canal and roads encroached on by builders,” he charged.
The demolition exercise, which started on Monday in Uvwie Local Government Area will move to Warri, Warri South Local Government Area, Udu, Ughelli and other flood-prone parts of the state.