Demolition galore: Travails of recreational garden operators in FCT 

Posted by News Express | 22 November 2022 | 252 times

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•FCT Minister, Muhammadu Bello

 

Some operators of recreational facilities, especially gardens where food and drinks are sold, have raised the alarm over what they described as tactical destruction of their means of livelihood and source of employment to many youths.

The aggrieved leisure garden operators said the policies which the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) is implementing is at variance with the ease of doing business policy which the Federal government claim to promote.

An owner of one of the gardens in Wuse II, Mr. James Madumere, alleged that the demolitions have dealt a deadly blow on their businesses.

According to him, the travails started with the directive to operators of relaxation parks and gardens to shut down at 7:00pm daily.

James noted that it was practically impossible for garden owners to comply with such rules, noting that 7:00pm is when the businesses usually starts gathering momentum.

Phones and Tablets

According to him, it was also morally wrong for the Abuja Municipal Area Council ( AMAC) to be demanding and collecting Liquor license fees from them, while FCTA is demolishing the gardens based on the fact that they are selling alcohol in the gardens. He dismissed the claim by FCT administration that the parks have become hide outs for drug peddlers and other criminals.

While he agreed that there may be some isolated cases of abuses of extant rules by operators, he argued that government, generalizing it was not a fair judgement.

He argued that security and intelligence operatives should be used to fish out all the culprits and punish them according to the law of the Papiee’s Meastro garden

Papiee’s Meastro garden

The latest demolition of Papiees Meastro, also knowns as ” Okonkwo” has left Abuja residents, especially patrons of the popular garden in total shock.

The recreational facility strategically located in the ever busy Lungi Crescent, Wuse II, is said to be an investment worth about N1 billion maria, employing about 350 workers.

Before the demolition, the place was a melting point for entertainment and relaxation for very important personalities. Inside Abuja checks also revealed that daily sales of both food and drinks in the place was around N10 to N20 million naira.

It was also said that high profile patrons start as early as 5pm, thronging the place in order to secure good spaces. Director of. Papiees Mastreo Garden, Chris Obinna looked too depressed to respond to enquiries, but some of his managers said they were shocked at the demo- lition that has displaced over 350 employees. John Femi, one of the supervisors said the demolition of the garden was without any notice.

“The case has been in court, and the matter was supposed to be heard today by 1:00pm. But as you can see, these people came here as early as 9:00am we saw them come in and started demolishing everything without any information. We have about 350 staff here,” he said.

Another staff, Ernest Naalo said the claims by FCT administration that drug peddlers were taking refuge in the garden, was just a case of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang him.

“We don’t do drugs here. All we do here is legitimate business, we sell food and drinks,” he said. Paul Obasi also expressed anger at the development, stressing that it was appalling for the authorities to demolish businesses based on flimsy excuses.

“This is the only society where you see a legitimate business employing people and government is destroying it without providing any alternative. Here a business worth up to N1 billion has been pulled down,” he said.

Justification for demolition

The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has remained constant in it’s claims that many operators of the parks and gardens, were not abiding by the terms and conditions of doing business in the nation’s capital.

Coordinator Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC), Umar Shuaibu said the demolished park was actually genuinely allocated, but the operators have violated the rules.

Shuaibu stated that the place was supposed to be developed as children’s neighborhood park, but the owner illegally turned it into drinking joint. “The plot in question is a revoked one, it does not belong to the person running an illegal garden.

We had sealed the place for a long time but the owner unsealed it without our consent. We served  demolition and revocation notices but they ignored it.

“They removed our seal and continued with their activities, all the neighbours are complaining.

From the reports, their customers will come and block their neighbours with cars, making owners of the houses stranded. It is as if there is no law in this country. “Abuja is a lawful city and we must abide by the law.

The Minister of FCT has given us the power and directive for us to ensure that our regulations are fully obeyed,” he said.

Last line

Abuja residents said that government was not sincere with it’s intentions, claiming that the demolition was meant to sanitizing the sector.

They have called on FCT administration to use every machinery possible to deal with only those who are flouting the parks operation guidelines, and stop destroying people’s investments, under the guises of chasing criminals. (New Telegraph: Text, excluding headline)

 


Source: News Express

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