New Enugu City: Enugu Gov’t say no home demolished

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 Enugu State government has faulted claims of demolitions and forceful ejections of residents of Nchatancha Nike, one of the many communities affected by the ongoing construction of New Enugu City, a smart city flagged off by Governor Peter Mbah in October.

It blamed the protests and disturbances, including the Monday attack on a bulldozer at the construction site, on land grabbers in the community, who sell portions of the already acquired and gazetted lands to unsuspected buyers, saying that some culprits were already in the security net.

It said that although affected communities were already served a notice years ago when the land acquisitions began by previous governments, the Governor Peter Mbah administration was approaching the mega project with a human face by ensuring that compensations and proper relocations were done before any demolitions.

The Secretary to Enugu State State Government, Prof. Chidiebere Onyia, made the clarifications on Monday during a site visit with journalists at Nchatancha Nike where a bulldozer was attacked, vowing that government would not be deterred in its determination to actualise the first phase of the New City in 24 months as already agreed with the China Communication Construction Company, CCCC, in October.

He said that the governor, who already had series of conversations and buy-in of the communities ahead and in the course of the project had ordered the contractors to begin a 24-hour construction work.

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Addressing journalists at the site, Prof. Onyia explained: “What we have discovered was that a few of community members, in noticing how bullish the governor is in building this New Enugu City, embarked on selling the lands to unsuspecting individuals, knowing that those buyers, not them, will now have to contend with the government.

“But I think we need to step back and answer the questions on when this process started. The first acquisition process started long before this government came. People have been served the notice many years ago that there would be a day like this when a government would decide that it is now time to actualise the promise to build a new city.

“But in doing that, what the governor decided would happen first is to clear the first 1,000 hectares. There are no homes here, as you can see. A few of the marked items you saw at the entrance belong to federal institutions.

“To make sure that no one was left without proper compensation, the governor constituted the Inter-Ministerial Committee, which I chair. We have also put out an announcement. So far, nobody has submitted anything because we are not even at that stage of demolishing anything yet. If you look around, all you see are farmlands. There is no building here, just a bush.”

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“Furthermore, we have also told those who have active farmlands in those areas to please send us a claim based on clear calculations. We have not received any information yet.

“So, there’s no clear justification for escalation to protest or the attack on machines here. We have a process that we are waiting to address.”

On proper relocation of the affected Nchatancha community, he said: “The plan to relocate the affected community was built-in by the current governor as it wasn’t originally built into the process since they were given advance notice to move.

“So, we actually have our plans to compensate them and we have also built plans to relocate them to an area that will have the right type of infrastructure. Smart school will be located there, a primary health care facility is going to be located there, they are setting out the roads around there even right now. Their farmlands have equally been factored into those relocation plannings.

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“Therefore, it is not something we are doing without a human heart. The governor is the father of the state and he is a critical thinker. These things have been thought through by his technical team with him in leadership”, he stated.

Onyia, however, warned property buyers to do their due diligence so as not to be defrauded by people, who were selling the same land acquired and gazetted by the government long ago.

Flagging off the project in October, Governor Mbah said the New Enugu City would rub shoulders with Dubai, Singapore, and other major cities in the world.

“This is going to create a veritable platform because in this city, we are going to have a dedicated power project, a dedicated power plant, we are going to have a central sewage system, we are going to have all the public utilities centralised, and it is going to be provided by the government.

“We are going to have access to high-speed internet. In this New City, there is hardly anything you find in any modern smart city that you will not find in here”, he stated.

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