By its sheer size, the sprawling buildings could rival the popular 1004 high-rise apartments in the highbrow Victoria Island, Lagos. That is about the only probable similarity between the behemoth edifices. Unlike the iconic 1004 that has pride of location, an appearance wreathed in splendour and homes fitted with basic creature comfort, the other building’s location, basic facilities and living atmosphere hardly define what modern accommodation means in the real sense of it.
For a start, the edifice is an eyesore: a dusty, decrepit high-rise, planted in an expansive surrounding of debris, mostly of disused nylon, papers and plastics and other rubbish that has made the roads leading into the house impassable to the occupants. There, rodents and reptiles daily compete with human occupants for space and survival.
To cap it all, the building is ridiculously named the Medina Estate. In recent months the building located between Iyana-Igere and Ijuri along the Lusada axis, in Ado-Odo, Ota, Ogun State, irked passersby by its decrepitude so much so that yet another uncomplimentary sobriquet was coined for it: The civilian barracks of Ijuri.
If anything, the magnitude of its squalidness qualifies the building to be called “Filth Estate.”
Findings of a week-long investigation by Saturday Sun revealed that the estate was built some 30 years ago by a businessman called Alhaji Jimoh Jida with the altruistic intention to provide affordable apartments to workers living within the Agbara Industrial area axis.
Various sources attested that the estate served its intended purpose while the owner was alive.
“Things changed about 10 years ago after the owner’s death and the estate was willed to his children who have since been managing it,” a source offered. “Unfortunately, the buildings suffered neglect and abandonment as the new managers appeared to be interested only in collecting rent and less concerned about the maintenance of the structure.”
An on-the-spot investigation revealed an abnormally high occupancy ratio, arising from the overcrowded human population, which in turn put a strain on the available amenities. Over 800 individuals are estimated to be living in the buildings. What was worse, the congestion was such that put the population at risk of epidemic.
“The buildings were meant to house about 150 people, but room standard has been compromised,” said Mr Lawal, a resident of the estate. “What we have here can be called statutory overcrowding. We now risk respiratory infections, typhus meningitis and cholera, especially during this heat period.”
Lawal said that the buildings need urgent attention which he said could only happen if the new managers could have a change of attitude. “People have been calling us all sort of names, but we pretend not to hear. I have my personal reservations about the whole thing,” he rued.
Raising children in the atmosphere of Medina is a matter of grave concern for Dr Dare Olugbodi, a retired public health officer who resides at Ijuri area.
“Living in such an overcrowded residential houses affects a child’s ability to learn, and this could have a lasting impact on his or her chances of succeeding in life,” he stated.
Asides the obvious problems of congestion and pollution, Olugbodi enumerated the other problems, including poor hygiene practices, lack of privacy and sleep, that the tenants battle against on a daily basis.
Saturday Sun reporter visited the Jida neighbourhood of Agbara where the children of the late owner of the Medina Estate now reside. Upon introducing himself, the reporter was accorded a hostile reception. The Jida children rebuffed all entreaties for an explanation as to why almost the property left behind by their father, and the Medina Estate, in particular, are in a state of disrepair.