SAVE OUR SOULS: Era Town Residents Cried out to Lagos Government, NIWA as Sand Dredgers Destroy Community

0
710

By Innocent Orok

Residents of Era Town, a community in Awori town at Oto Awori LCDA of Lagos State have cried out to both the Lagos State government and the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) to come to their aid.

Chief Olumide Akinsoji Erinle, Baale of Era Awori town.

They alleged that despite appeals and their sufferings, the government and its agencies seems to have abandoned them to the mercies of Sand Dredgers who have turn their community to a danger zone due to their dredging activities in the last eight years.

Lamenting to Roamrepporters online, the residents said despite their efforts to get the attention of NIWA, Lagos Area office who granted the Dredgers permits to operate to call them to order or to compel them to repair the road their heavy equipment which they operate day and night have destroyed has fallen on deaf ears.

Giving the background to their predicament which has lasted nearly a decade, Gbadebo Erinle an indigene of the town, narrated how the Dredgers who are now a torn in the flesh of the community had catch on the chieftaincy tussle of the town which lasted for over seventeen years to wreck havoc and pains on the residents with their illegal and uncontrollable dredging activities.

BACKGROUND FACTS
“Sometime in 2003, the last reigned Baale of Era community, Wahab
Momodu Egbeile joined his ancestors. Upon the demise of Wahab Momodu
Egbeile, there were series of contrived suits orchestrated by some other families in
Era Town which led to the vacuum in the seat of Baale of Era Town for about 17 years.

During this period some people took advantage of the absence of Baale in the community, some unscrupulous individuals like “the biblical thieves in the middle of the night”, aided by Carlton Multi Services Limited, Educhudy Dredging Company Limited,

Lloyd & Sotheby Limited, Ac Synergy Systemn Limited, Fide Natts Global Resources Ltd., Mrs. Oluwole Adedapo Grace (the dredgers), they moved heavily loaded machines and equipments meant for dredging activities into Era community without due authorization of the community and or government permits / licenses.

“Before the entire people of Era community could blink an eye, these dredgers commenced dredging activities on Ologe River without the due consent and authority of the community as well as relevant approvals and documents including, but not limited to Cadastral Permits and Environmental Impact Assessments Reports.

“The Era community in a bid to stop the illegal dredging, activities of the dredgers wrote to the Governor of Lagos State as well as the Ministry of Mines and Steels complaining about the illegal dredging actívities in Era Communíty.

“In response to the community’s letter, Lagos State Government and the
Ministry of Mines and Steel directed a stop work on the dredging activities which the dredgers refused to comply with till date. Meanwhile the dredging companies increased even up to about 18 operatives at some points” , Erinle said.

He said their grievances is the
urgent intervention on Era road for construction as the poor state of the road has made the only functional health centre almost useless for the entire residents ditto the public school there .

“The dredgers have no authority whatsoever to dredge sand from Ologe River by failing to obtain the necessary Cadastral Permits and due consent of the community which is a prerequisite to the issuance of the permit.

Despite the fact that the activities of the dredgers started several years ago, the
illegal activities have continued unabated till this very moment without any positive intervention by the appropriate agencies .Some agencies had organized several meetings between the dredgers and representatives of the community with a view to resolving the lingering problems, but all efforts proves abortive.”

“As a matter of fact, the agency sometime in December, 2022 set up a committee comprising of the representatives of the Era community and the dredgers with a view to providing solution to the lingering problems associated with the dredging activities in Era Community with a mandate to resolve the problems under 4 weeks, but unfortunately the committee has not reached a logical result to resolve the complaint of the community on the roads network in Era community which are in a deplorable condition owing to the heavy vehicular activities as a result of the dredging activities and the environmental degradation of our environment.”, he lamented.

Also speaking on the sufferings and hardship the activities of the Dredgers have subject his people to, the Baale of Era Awori town, Chief Olumide Akinsoji Erinle said he and the leaders of the community have been making several efforts to cry out to Lagos State Government and NIWA, but non has come to their aid.

The Baale accused NIWA of not leaving up to their promised to mandate the Dredgers to give back to the community by repairing the road they have destroyed.

“We have cried out to the State government, waterfront, NIWA, even the Cadestral Office. I must confess that at a point , there was a “Stopped Work” order issued by the Lagos State government and another one issued by the Federal ( through NIWA), but they ignored it, they are untouchable, they did not even stop for one hour.

“Presently the road is in a complete collapse, EDAs, some individual landlords came in here appealing that if there is anything they can do. Actually, is very difficult, is beyond me .We are crying this time around to the government and its agencies to do the needful.

“In a community like this, security should be paramount. How can we have Dredgers working round the clock without control? How can we have a place like this with close to 20 Dredgers or more in a span of less than half a kilometer? And they have been dredging unabated to the best of my knowledge in the last eight years?, both day and night.

“We are no longer enjoying the community and they should also asked them of what benefits is the dredging activities to the community?. To whom much is given, much is expected. Where is the Corporate Social Responsibility ( CSR)?. If they have given us anything , they should show it?, the Baale questioned.

NIWA FAILED INTERVENTION:

The Baale, Chief Olumide Akinsoji Erinle, further explained how , NIWA, through the Lagos Area Office intervene in the matter , but later compromised and chicken out, leaving the Dredgers to continue to wreck untold havoc and hardship on the people of Era community.

“Right before me, Madam Sarat Briamah ( Area Manager, Lagos NIWA Office), she did very well , when we met her in her office in Lagos. We went there emass with the Dredgers, she face the Dredgers on that faithfull day and said to them , you people are very wicked, you know that most people in this community are illiterate, you are exploiting them.

Go to so, so places, she mentioned about two communities that Dredgers are taking care of their roads, you are not giving anything back”, she blast them.

“We tolerated them for more than one year, they did not do anything, we make moves to stop them, they rush back to her, she came here, we said we want an MOU.

We drafted the MOU and gave it to Madam Sarat, she peruse it and said this is okay. “I promised they will signed it tomorrow ( then) . I send somebody to take it to her office at least in the interest of mutual relationship. Nothing was done , nobody responded.

“I now picked up my phone and call Madam Sarat. Madam Sarat you gave me your words and I send one of the chiefs to you to bring the MOU. She said, sorry, I don’t want it to look as if I forced them to sign, that is how it ended. We have to get back to the same page. After a lot , we also wrote to the Cadestral Office . Two years after nothing has happened.

THE WAY FORWARD:

Baale Erinle, said they are tired and the want the Dredgers to vacate their community if they cannot add value, or else they will be forced to react.

” The way forward is , if we are not benefiting anything from them, and they are adding more pains to us , they should vacate our community for the interest of peace.

We are tired. And also we want the State government to come and help us, looking at the level ,of degradation of their environment.” Baale Erinle pleaded.

Also adding their voices to the sufferings they are passing through in Era community, Elder Igbinoba Festus, General Secretary of United Community Development Association Forum and Qgbugo Peter, Chairman, Era Awori West ,who is also a resident in the area and other residents lamented the sufferings they are going through due to the activities of the Dredgers.

They said nothing is working, “people are abandoning the area, their houses and businesses because of insecurity and there is no functional government presence due the deplorable conditions of the roads. They all cried out for government intervention.

Meanwhile, the names of the 19 Dredging Companies that are wrecking havoc on the community were given as: Ac Synergy Site, Lloyd and Sotheby Ltd, Leigh and Lloyd Ltd, Abukas Oil and Gas Ltd, Fide Natt Ltd, Carlton Nig. Ltd, Zmatel Dredging Ltd Site1, Seafall Marine Ltd, Fimar Nig. Ltd, and Edu- Chudy.

Others are, Dammyland Dredging Ltd, Nath- rods Nig. Ltd, Premium Trust Ltd, J-Div Ltd, Graceon Enterprises ( New Chinese), Adson Nig. Enterprises Ltd, Zmatel ‘ Site 2’, AC Energy Site 2 and Babs Allan Nig. Ltd.

Note: Expect more developing stories on this matter (for more information email roamrepporters@gmail.com).

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here