When Mrs. Doyin Olajide arrived at the Games village, Surulere, Lagos, in the 1970s at age 27, she, like many others, came with very high hopes.
Olajide, who is now 64, must have been dazzled by the architectural masterpiece of the estate, which was built by the General Yakubu Gowon administration for athletes and officers for the All Africa Games.
Civil servants who were lucky to be allocated flats after the sporting event must have counted themselves lucky to be among the chosen few who benefitted from the struggle for space as government officials in the then nation’s capital.
But all that is now history. The once sprawling estate has since changed negatively, after many years of neglect. The place now has a major issue to contend with.
Despite having been sold by the Federal Government to different buyers, including civil servants, residents have been faced with the blockage and eventual takeover of their waste plant.
Consequently, theu have had to make alternative arrangements for sewage disposal, even as the estate water channel has been cut off.
These have led to the altering of the Games Village master plan, with residents resorting to construction of sewage facilities, amid space constraints.
The challenge has, however, shown its ugly side with some who cannot afford the facility or, facing space challenges, channeling their waste into the drainage.
It was gathered that this has raised health concerns, even as expatriates are said to be leaving the estate over cholera fears.
This is unlike the scenario at the 1004 Flats in Victoria Island, which the Federal Government also sold through the Presidential Implementation Committee (PIC). Till date, the 1004 community is said to be in charge of its sewage plant, which is just a few metres from the estate.
Several efforts were said to have been made by the Games Village Community Development Association to take control of the plant, without success in the last few years.
Curiously, instead of the PIC, which sold the estate to residents, taking charge of issues connected with the plant, the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing was said to have been sold it to an estate company, Princely Estate.
Residents of the estate staged a peaceful protest to show their displeasure with the scenario on Monday, January 13.
Speaking with journalists, chairman of the estate CDA, Mr. Johnson Oguns, lamented the way residents have been treated with regard to the sewage plant.
According to him, rather than allow residents unfettered access to the facility, some elements in the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing blocked the sewage channel
Hear him: “The property was sold in 2014 and the sewage system connects all the buildings in the estate because it is a central system.
“The facility was functioning at the time it was sold. If you go there now, it is like a football field. The multimillion-naira facility there has been cannibalised
“We want the sewage plant to be returned to us as the rightful owners of the property. We want President Buhari to intervene now. Whoever bought the sewage plant bought a bad product.”
Oguns wondered why a property would be sold to somebody and the toilet of the property would be sold to another person
Daily Sun’s effort to inspect the facility, which is on Eric Moore Road, Surulere, was foiled by policemen from Bode Thomas Police Station. The station’s Divisional Police Officer, Mr. Fasesan, told journalists that his men were at the complex to forestall breakdown of law and order.
Consequently, he said, no form of protest by the estate residents would be allowed as it might be hijacked by street urchins from the neighbouring Orile Iganmu.
The chairman of Salvador Towers, owner of some highrise buildings in the estate, Moshood Salvador, however, threw his weight behind the protest. He insisted that the sale of the plant was unfair to the 5,000 residents of the estate.
He recalled that the facility was designed for Surulere sewage treatment and nothing else.
Aside from that, he said government had sold off the entire Games Village and, therefore, could no longer sell the treatment plant.
Said he: “The Federal Government, in 2012, said the sewage plant should be reactivated by Dock Management Nigeria Limited to serve the community. On this we stand.”
When contracted, Mr. Hakeem Bello, spokesman for the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, declined comments on the issue. He told this reporter to send a text massage on the matter, but failed to reply to messages sent to him.
However, a source at the ministry’s office in Lagos said the ministry would make its position known soon. He noted that the minister was being wrongly accused by residents of the estate.