Workers under the Federation of Informal Workers Organisation of Nigeria (FIWON), recently picketed the Lagos State House of Assembly (LSHA), Alausa, Lagos, to protest the demolition and arrest of their members by organs of the Lagos State government.
FIWON said over 40 informal settlemements, markets and production and service centres have been demolished across the state under the mega city drive of government in the last 12 years without commensurate replacement.
The workers claimed this was alien to what a mega city should be, compared to developed cities of the world.
They also called for the abolition of the Lagos State Task Force, which they described as an agency of extortion and intimidation of 70 per cent of their members in the informal sector.
General secretary of the union, Mr. Gbenga Komolafe, said the protest was planned to coincide with the annual United Nations (UN) World Cities’ Day to show the disparity in the way the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode-led government was going about urbanisation and chasing residents from the state and what a UN modern city ought to be.
Komolafe, who led the protest, as the chairman was said to be in police custody, claimed that Lagos residents were not feeling the development going on in the state because the mega city being projected was obviously meant for the elite and not for everybody.
The protest, which started at 9am, was led by mechanics and marketwomen across the state, who marched from Ikeja Under Bridge to Alausa.
The protest leader said: “According to the UN Habitat 3, cities should be inclusive for everybody; basic municipal sevices like water, electricity, jobs should be provided by the government to the people, as simple markets can be built, but the reverse is the case in Lagos State.
“A mega city that does not work for 80 per cent of the population is not sustainable as it will breed crime and serious crises and we called on the Lagos State government to invest in simple social housing that would be affordable, sanitation, schools and health centres like in the past.”
Komolafe mentioned the current case of the mechanic village at Babs Animashaun, where officials of the state ministry of justice chased away the mechanics on a federal government-owned land without recourse to the case being in court.
Responding, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Prince Olanrewaju Elegushi, said the governor was a listening governor and the demands of the workers would be looked into.
Elegushi said the mechanic village at Babs Animashaun was a family issue and had nothing to do with the state government, as he has investigated the matter.
He assured the workers that he would deliver their message to the Lagos State House of Assembly, who were on an assignment outside the complex.