Enugu State Govt and the Nigeria Railways are in a big quarrel over shanties destroyed by a state governemnt agency around Enugu Airport.
The quarrel, a second within one week, broke out this time between the State Govt and the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), a federal parastatal.
NRC had accused the State Government of destroyinng facilities being put in place to upgrade railine in the South East to standard gauge tracks.
Enugu State Government demolished shanties at Ukwuorji area of Nike on 14 August, because they were obstructing the airport rehabilitation, officials had said.
NRC however knocked the effort as it ended up destroying rail facilities, according to an official.
NRC District Manager in Enugu, Mr. Osidipe Olusoji who laid the charge, bemoaned the destruction “at a time the Federal Government had redoubled efforts to extend the standard gauge railway to the (South East Zone.”)
“Now that the attention of the Federal Government is focused on this, the (Enugu State Govt) is still unable to see what is coming and is, therefore trying to frustrate the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari,” Olusoji said, sounding political.
The State however bristled at the suggestion, describing Olusoji’s words as “blackmail, falsehood (and) malicious propaganda.”
Enugu not only dismissed NRC claims but also explained that the actions taken were in response to requests for assistance made to the State Governor by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), another federal agency.
Olusoji had claimed that the area demolished at Ukwuorji Nike by the State was neither airport land nor constituted an obstruction to the airport rehabilitation.
“It may interest the general public to know that Ukwuorji area is in no way close to the airport in such way that it would obstruct the airport rehabilitation.
“The land is not in the direction of incoming or outgoing flights from Enugu Airport,” he said.
The statement from the State Government gave a chronology of events that led to the demolition at Ukwuorji.
Enugu said that FAAN wrote to the Governor on 11 May 2020 requesting the State to remove “the obstruction of the airport construction site along Ukwu Orji area, by the rail tracks.”
“Government then directed Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA) to issue appropriate notices to all owners and occupants of illegal shanties and structures obstructing the construction of critical infrastructure at the airport.”
The State also said that it published a public notice in the Vanguard newspaper, giving the occupants until 31 July to quit the land.
The statement noted that FAAN also directly issued a public notice to owners of illegal shanties in the location to remove them within two weeks.
Finally, FAAN was said to have submitted a “comprehensive map” of the area it wanted the state to remove the shanties.
The map of airport land submitted by FAAN detailed” the areas and structures obstructing construction,” the statement added.
Enugu State conluded its defence thusly:
“The state government has no intention whatsoever to acquire any piece of land that belong to the Nigeria Railway Corporation.
“Rather, the Government is determined to provide all needed support to the Nigeria Railway Corporation and any other Federal Government Agency operating within the State to ensure their full operation and functionality.”
Enugu Metro notes that this new controversy is coming barely nine days to the promised reopening of the Enugu International Airport.
Prior to the new quarrel, many were unaware that the Nigeria Railway Corporation was engaged in any major project that is of benefit to the South East region.