It was a bizarre moment as commercial sex workers, petty traders, including customers wailed as bulldozers destroyed their tents and shanties, at the popular Abakaliki Street in Awka, Anambra State Capital. Our correspondent reports that the Awka Capital Territory Development Authority, (ACTDA) during the week pulled down structures erected under high tension cables and other unauthorized positions at Club Road, formally known as Abakaliki Street, Awka.
ACTDA enforcement team also removed shanties situated on the restricted strip of land demarcating both sides of the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway at Agu-Awka and Amansea axis. But, these night street business individuals have lamented that their only source of income have been brought to an end without any notice from state government. Including leaving them displaced without any hope of where to begin life.
Some affected property owners in the areas, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that while government is taking the right action towards development, a certain degree of grace should be shown to those who are legitimately pursuing their means of livelihood.
However, one of the sex workers who simply identified herself as Angel said, “I have been hanging out for over eight years now in this area. I stay at Isuaniocha and most nights I come here to have fun, now it’s been destroyed by Governor Soludo. How do I survive and take care of my ailing mum”, she decried. Another victim, Joseph said he hustles at the street by selling sharwama and ice cream as a young man but his chop has been destroyed leaving him shattered.
They appealed for a kind of compensation given that their businesses are their families’ only means of survival. A passerby, Mrs Ifeoma Umeh, agreed that it is illegal to put up a structure on such positions, but asked government to increase monitoring to ensure that developers do not enter the areas at all to warrant demolition.
In an interview, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of ACTDA, Venerable Amaechi Okwuosa, said the restrictions on erecting structures under high tension cables and on highway setbacks are permanent, with the agency constantly on removal visits to such places. Venerable Okwuosa said that the demolition is necessary to also discourage those who would want to erect structures in those places, maintaining that his office is determined to stick to all legal development formulas guiding Awka and environs.
While sympathizing with those who were affected by the exercise, the ACTDA boss said that Governor Chukwuma Soludo’s dream of a livable, prosperous and smart mega city will not happen if illegalities are allowed to trend. ACTDA is a state-owned local regulatory authority that monitors housing and aesthetic development and outlooks of Awka town and other communities that make up the state capital territory, News Echo Reports.