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  • Sunday, June 23, 2024
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Lagos-Calabar coastal highway: Doherty tells Lagos to seek alternatives to demolition of Landmark, others

Funso Doherty, the candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) in the last gubernatorial election, has asked Lagos State Government (LASG) to explore alternative solutions over plans to demolish Landmark Beach and other properties to make way for the Lagos-Calabar coastal highway.

Doherty said this in a letter dated April 9, 2024, and addressed to Oluyinka Abiodun Olumide, the Lagos commissioner for physical planning and urban development. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu was also copied in the letter posted on Doherty’s X account.

Landmark Beach Resort, a popular tourist spot in Lagos, is embroiled in a dispute with the LASG regarding a proposed demolition to pave the way for the coastal highway project.

The owner of the resort, Paul Onwuanibe, was served a seven-day demolition notice in late March, raising worries about its effect on tourism and investment.
The Lagos government argued that the beach and other properties are situated within the specified right-of-way for the initial phase of the 700-kilometer Lagos-Calabar coastal highway project.

Reacting to the development, Doherty in the letter titled ‘Re: Open Letter on Right-of-Way and Compulsory Acquisition of Property for Lagos-Calabar Coastal road,’ noted that “the State’s power of eminent domain over the citizenry is clear, incontrovertible and constitutionally guaranteed. However, like all great and wide-ranging power, it must be utilized carefully, with justice and compassion.”

The governorship candidate called for caution, stating that alternative solutions should be explored by the government.

“In such matters, process is particularly important, and it should involve wide-ranging, good faith consultation and open communication. Wherever feasible, alternative solutions should be explored for particularly injurious situations. This may involve some added time and cost. Recent developments would suggest that more work is needed in this area,” he said.

Doherty pointed out that some of the properties marked for demolition are used for businesses that “have invested substantial sums, taken commercial risks and succeeded, contributing to the city, while employing residents and paying taxes. The effect on them, on their employees and on the city should be carefully considered.”

He also advocated for informal and shanty towns along the way, stating that they “may be considered illegal, but the social and human implications of clearing them, especially on the vulnerable (children, elderly) cannot be wished away. Mitigating provisions will have to be made”

“Fair and just compensation for owners, whether businesses, urban or rural communities along the entire right of way must go along with compulsory acquisitions of property, including undeveloped land, if such acquisitions ultimately prove to be inevitable.

“In such a project, which is a Federal Project cutting across states, one of the roles that is expected of Lagos State Government, being a Federating entity, is to serve as an advocate for all of its people, especially those that may be adversely affected in one way or another. LASG should be mindful to discharge this trust faithfully and to ensure that it is reflected in project plans,” he said.

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