Bodija Residents, Oyo Housing Corporation Bicker Over Siting Of Filling Station
A simmering crisis is brewing between the residents of the Old Bodija Housing Estate and the Board of the Oyo State Housing Corporation over the siting of a filling station at the Housing Estate Round About, Bodija, Ibadan.
Some residents, who spoke during the week, alleged that the board of the corporation had altered the original Master Plan of the estate and sold the old fuel dump site, located within the premises of the corporation, to an individual oil marketer.
They also alleged that the filling station is being constructed without conducting the required Environmental Impact Assessment, and to the detriment of the health of the residents.
However, the chairman of the Oyo State Housing Corporation, Chief Bayo Lawal, put a lie to the claims of the residents, declaring that the old fuel dump site was not sold outright and that all safety requirements were sought for and approved by the relevant agencies.
He further said the fuel dump site is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) project that will last for 25 years, adding that the investor would be paying annual rent to the corporation, while the agreement is subject to a periodic review every five years.
The residents raised fears of environmental pollution, ground water pollution, possibility of fire outbreak, traffic congestion when the filling station eventually take off.
One of the residents, Mr Bode Akinjide-Oladeji, said: “I don’t think that those behind the project conducted an Environmental Impact Assessment before embarking on the construction. Bodija is a residential estate. What do you think would happen, if fire should start off at the place?
“There is fear of ground water pollution. The presence of the filling station under construction leaves concern about the tendency to generate more carbodioxide at this place, due to increased vehicular presence.
“I am not sure if the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the former Premier of the Old Western Region who established the Housing Estate, anticipated this ugly development when Bodija Estate was opened.
“Residents of this community, under the aegis of the Bodija Estate Residents Association (BERA), had approached those building the filling station.
“We expressed reservations against the arbitrariness. The idea of altering the physical and environmental layout is wrong and unacceptable.
“In building a filling station, the standard must be followed. We are taken aback the way the serenity of Bodija Estate is being altered.
“We are appealing to the Oyo State Housing Corporation to prevail on the owner of the project to convert the structure to another use. What I mean is that the person can, for instance, consider using it for mall or a related purpose.”
Another resident and a former exco member of the Ikare Ilaro Ede Alabiyamo (IIEA) Residents Association, Mr Bunmi Oyefeso, also declared as unacceptable the decision of the Housing Corporation to build the petrol station at the Housing Round About.
“It is a distortion of the original Master Plan of the Old Bodija Housing Estate. Building a filling station in an area that is supposed to be purely a residential area is an abnormality.
“It is unacceptable as it would also constitute numerous health and environmental hazards for and to the people living in the estate,” he said.
Chairman, Awosika/Olagbegi Resident Association, Mr Ayo Ogundele, said: “It is wrong for the Housing Corporation to carve out its land inside the Estate and lease it out to a petrol station just like that. You know how these things are; these people just think of themselves only and not the people.
“The people who were in charge of the Housing Corporation several years ago are still alive and the ones who are dead would be turning in their graves now.
“We should just voice our minds. It is improper. By the time they look into the papers, maybe the filling station is not to be located there at all.”
The current chairman of IIEA, Engineer Akinwumi Sode, also expressed his opposition to the decision to have the filling station at the Bodija Housing Round About
He said, “We have the General Secretary of BERA. I asked him what is BERA doing. He told me they are taking steps. I think they have written the governor, but how far they have gone is what I can’t say.
“The excuse they gave to us for now is that the particular place had been used as petrol dump site and that if they now give it out as a filling station, there is no difference between a dumpsite and a filling station.
“The Housing Corporation is the landlord, but BERA wants to go court. If eventually BERA says no and we win in court, they would pull it down.
“God forbid, the risk of a filling station there is high. We can manage malls and clubs but the risk attached to a filling station is much. Ordinarily, we expect agencies to talk. That is why I said somebody in the government may be deeply involved.”
When contacted, President of BERA, Architect Folu Bademosi, confirmed the development, but said he would not want to pre-empt the outcome of the report of a committee set up to look into the issues.
“I would not want to say much on the filling station now. This is because BERA, the umbrella body of all resident associations in Old Bodija Estate, have set up a committee to look into the whole issue.
“In as much as the committee is still making its findings on the appropriateness or otherwise of siting the filling station at that place, it will not be proper for me to make any comment for now.
“This is because any comment or observation I make now will be a prejudice to the work of the committee. So, I will rather wait for the report of the committee,” he said.
Chief Iyiola Oladokun, a former deputy governor of the state and resident of Old Bodija, also said: “I will not want to make any comment on the issue. Rather, I want to align myself with the position of the president of BERA.”
Chief Bayo Lawal, chairman, Oyo State Housing Corporation, however described the old Bodija Estate residents as mischievous people who are out to sell lies to the public.
He said master plans are dynamic and can change with time and situation, adding that he reached out to BERA when some decisions were taken by the Housing Corporation on giving the Old Bodija Estate some physical facelifts.
He said: “As a matter of fact, we are beginning to see their action as being politically-motivated. The strident criticisms by BERA and some of these residents are political.
“We sat with BERA: we have tried to engage BERA but they are maligning us. I am not afraid of anybody. The only thing I can be afraid of is not doing the right thing.
“These people are simply mischievous. They are selling an outright clandestine lie to the public. We did not sell the fuel dump site which has been in existence since 1958.
“Rather, it is a concessioning arrangement. It is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) project in which the property will be returned to the Housing Corporation after 25 years.
“As contained in the terms of the agreement on the PPP arrangement, the investor will be paying annual rent on the property to Housing Corporation. The agreement is subject to review every five years.”
Lawal, conducting newsmen round the premises, said: “The fuel dump site still belongs to the Oyo State Housing Corporation. It is situated within the premises of the corporation.
“The fence demarcating the filling station and the corporation is in line with the requirement by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) which stipulated that there must be a fence around the fuel station.
“Left to us, we would have left the entire space opened within the premises of the corporation, but we have to conform with the requirements of the DPR.
“The corporation took the appropriate steps and got the approval of all relevant authorities, as required for setting up a filling station. We complied with all the safety requirements.
“We got the approval of the state governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde. We met up with the requirements of the DPR, the Oyo State Fire Service, the state Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources and the Ministry of Physical Planning.
“Rather than jumping into a wrong conclusion about our intentions, the residents of the Old Bodija Estate should come to us for clarifications. If they are in doubt, they are free to come to us.
“To whose benefit would it be if the fuel station constitute health hazards? Are the residential buildings anywhere closer to the filling station? The station is within the premises of the Housing Corporation. We are the ones that should be more concerned.
“What we are doing is to revamp the dying Oyo State Housing Corporation. We are here serving the interest of the people. We want to be modest, make our little contributions to the infrastructural development of Old Bodija Estate and its environs and we move on from there.
“We are turning around the Housing Corporation and its environs. When we finally turn it around, it will be one of the flagship projects of the current administration in the state. Others are the three parks at Iwo Road, Challenge and Ojoo and the Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba.
“They don’t want Governor Seyi Makinde to do the flagship projects so that they would turn around during election campaigns to ask what the governor did during his first term in office.
“We want to do something beneficial to the staff of the state Housing Corporation and members of the public. Instead of criticising us clandestinely, they should come out in the open to criticise us. If they have anything against anybody, they should come out and then we take it up from there.
“I am open to debate on the project. I am prepared to meet anybody at any place, either on the radio or television station. We are not seeking to be praised, but they should not be dishing out deliberate and malicious falsehood to the public.
“I am a lawyer. I must not run foul of the law; doing that will be too reckless of me. All what we did are well documented.
“The terms of agreement on the PPP arrangement is a matter of public document and they are all going to be filed at the Deeds Registry of the state Ministry of Lands. They would be made available to whoever is interested in knowing what really transpired.”