The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has condemned the illegal conversion of residential buildings for commercial use in the Benin metropolis.
The governor at a stakeholders’ meeting with residents and business owners in Ihama, Boundary and Country Home Roads, in Benin City, said the state government is determined to create a better city for future generations.
He noted the increase in night clubs, lounges and other commercial activities in Ihama, Boundary and Country Home Roads, stating that the trend was worrisome as it was distorting the original plan for the residential area.
“What we had in the 1970s and 1980s is no longer what it is today. GRA stopped on Aguobasimwin when I was growing up. Boundary Road was the boundary of GRA. At that time, the area was planned. The houses were purely residential. The area for commercial use was clearly demarcated.”
The governor decried the spate of illegal conversions from residential buildings to clubs and lounges in the metropolis, noting that developers no longer take the drainage system, electricity supply and other amenities into consideration when developing their property.
“If you convert a residential building into a hotel, how will the 11KVA line in the area accommodate that? The power consumption by one hotel is what ten to twenty houses consume. Then on the social side, after a hard day, you come home to sleep and after switching off the television, you are in your bedroom and noise from the clubs won't allow you to sleep.”
Obaseki assured that while he was determined to leave a safe and planned city for future generations, he was not going to put anyone out of business, adding, “It is not our goal to put people out of work or business. Our goal is to make sure we organise things. Let's plan an area, if you want to build lounges, plan a place for such businesses.
“It is not good that we destroy future generations by exposing ten years old children to sell cigars, hard drugs, and other vices. We also want a win-win situation. We will do what majority has agreed and ensure we take care of minority.”
In her presentation, Edo State Commissioner for Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Hon. Isoken Omo noted that the commercialization of the GRA was causing high traffic, increase in drug use and noise population.
“Imagine bring exposed to 90 decibels (90dB) of noise at night, can you sleep? The lounges and clubs lack sound proofing, results in loitering and antisocial behaviours. Homeless children act as “If you live in that area, you have to rush home early or wait till very late at night to access your home. Is that the kind of life we want?”
Commissioner for Environment and Sustainability, Hon. Jonathan Lawani cautioned against illegal conversion of private homes to commercial use stating that a committee was set up to oversee the issue.
He said the committee discovered that over 80% of homes have been converted to commercial purposes without approval and that would no longer be condoned.