Abia State government has embarked on sensitisation of communities and property owners to prepare them to make the necessary sacrifices for the development of Umuahia, the capital city.
As part of his development agenda, Governor Alex Otti announced the expansion of the main entry road leading into Umuahia from the Enugu- Port Harcourt expressway.
He said Ossah Road, which is presently a dualised entry from Abia Tower junction off the expressway into Umuahia, would be expanded to six lanes.
To make this possible, over 160 properties have been penciled down for demolition while some ancestral lands would also go into the road expansion project.
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The State Commissioner for Lands and Housing, Mr. Chaka Chukwumerije, is the head of a public enlightenment and sensitisation team reaching out to the communities and property owners that would be affected by the road project.
Speaking at a public enlightenment forum at Eziama na Mgbaja, Okpu Isingwu, Uzzzi na Akpizu, and Isingwu autonomous communities, the commissioner said that his ministry had already done the enumeration and valuation of buildings in conjunction with external valuers.
He assured them that the government would pay compensations within the ambit of the law, adding that the Otti’s administration was sensitive and responsive, hence the need to carry out sensitisation visits before commencing the demolition of properties.
“We will give a human face to all the decisions taken,” he said, adding that Otti believes in following due process even though, “he is in a hurry to develop the state.”
Mrs. Oge Maduka, who represented the Attorney General of the State, further emphasised that the road expansion project was for the public interest and that everything would be done within the provisions of the law.
She noted that the inclusion of the AG in the sensitisation team was a pointer that the government would not violate the rights of people and would ensure the execution of the project in a peaceful environment.
Both the Special Assistant to the Governor on Lands and Housing, Okorougo Aji and the Senior Special Assistant on Homeland Security said this would not disappoint Ossah people and other affected communities.
In their respective remarks, the Chairman of Nigerian Institute of Town Planners(NITP), Mr. Steve Nwazue, and a Director in the Ministry of Lands and Housing, said the impending demolition exercise would be done step by step with guiding rules.
Nwazue, disclosed that a demolition notice had already been served to owners of affected properties, adding that a second notice would be served in due course.
The traditional rulers of and community leaders of the affected communities, who spoke at the event, accepted the government initiative to give Umuahia the befitting status of a state capital.
However, they all appealed to the government to also pay compensations to those whose inherited ancestral lands would go into the road project as well as those who genuinely own properties but have no certificate of occupancy.
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