The residents of Babatunde Adeyoola Avenue, Ewu-Owa, Gberigbe, Ikorodu, Lagos, enjoy talking about the peace that envelopes their small community.
The air permeating their community is fresh and they do not have to inhale the diluted air that characterises Lagos, Nigeria’s economic capital.
They find it easy to fall asleep at night, but their peace is now threatened as their once quiet community is about to become the hub of a thriving gas plant business.
“Our entire community is facing the threat of being wiped away,” Babatunde Adeyoola, a resident of the community, told our correspondent.
“We understand the implication of running a business such as this in a residential area and we do not want to take chances. The gas plant poses serious danger to our lives and health.
“Our neighborhood faces the threat of being wiped away if this is not nipped in the bud. We are scared for our lives, our children and our homes.”
Olakunle Adeyiga (not real name), another resident, expressed concerns that the gas plant sandwiched between two residential properties posed a huge health hazard to the neighbourhood.
“Everyone in the community is scared for their safety because the small plot where it is situated is between two adjoining properties. If there should be an accidental fire outbreak, the loss will be monumental,” he said.
“The gas plant was brought into our street through coercion. The owner, who we don’t know in person because the project manager has been the one supervising the work, deployed thugs bearing weapons to be on standby during construction to ward off hindrance from the community development association (CDA) members.”
Adeyiga said members of the CDA had refrained from speaking against the project for fear of harassment and due to compromise on the part of some landlords in the community.
“CDA members can no longer speak up against the project because of fear of harassment and death,” he mentions.
“But we can’t all pretend like it’s not going to affect us. The area is a developing community where people still burn their refuse in front of their houses. The gas plant close by is more disastrous than most people imagine.
“Stakeholders who should speak up have been compromised, while some landlords also think the gas plant will serve as a source of employment for their unemployed business.
“At some point, the CDA placed a stop work order on the premises, but right now, work is nearly completed on the site.”
THE AREA IS NOT IN MY CARE — CDA CHAIRMAN
The CDA chairman of Ewu Owa, who simply identified himself as Adeyeye, said that he had little influence on the location of the gas plant and that he was aware proper inspection had taken place for the project to commence.
“I can’t comment on the gas plant project in Ewu-Owa because I am not the owner of the street,” he told our correspondent.
“Babatunde Adeyoola has a CDA chairman who should be responsible for the happenings there. And if the chairman can’t speak for them, they should approach the community head (Baale).
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“I was not the one who sold the land to them. All I know is that the last time they approached me, I asked them to bring a document ensuring that proper investigation had been done there.”
We are told when asked if Adeyeye was not concerned the project was in a residential area, he stated that; “if the place was not suitable for such business, it wouldn’t have been sold.”
“If the environment was not suitable for such business, the land wouldn’t have been sold to them,” he said.
“There is another gas plant in Ewu-Owa in a residential area and people are also there.”
“There are procedures to be followed for such projects. If the place is not suitable, they would have told them. I am not bigger than the government who gave them permission to commence the project.”
“All I know is that I must see the permit before the project can continue.”
WE COMPLIED WITH SAFETY REGULATIONS – PROJECT ENGINEER
When FIJ contacted Engr. Wale Adeleke, the project manager, he said the project was being executed with the consent of the CDA chairman and landlords in the community.
“The CDA chairman and every landlord is aware of the mini-gas plant we are trying to set up. We have written to them and we have their approval,” he told our correspondent.
“Even before the land was secured, the community agreed to the project and then we got approval for safety.
“And we have ensured to comply with safety standards from regulatory agencies so nothing goes wrong.
Adeleke denied allegations of harassing community members who have concerns about the project with cultists. He rather said that community members were happy about the development.
“No one has ever harassed anyone,” he said.
“The indigenes are particularly happy their community is becoming developed. This is why we did not bypass any protocol. We complied with every safety law on the list.
“We also do not have residential properties around the mini-gas plant as claimed. The houses are metres away from us and we also have high walls to ensure adequate safety.”