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Lagos Auto Mechanics, Technicians Protest Demolition of Workshops

Hundreds of Lagos Motor Mechanics and Technicians on Tuesday staged a peaceful protest over the demolition of their workshop by the administration of the Lagos state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

The protesters, who accused the State of forcefully taking possession of mechanic villages across the state and converting them for personal use or gain, urged sanwo-Olu to dismiss his adviser on transportation, Mr. Toyin Fayinka.

The protesters, who earlier converged at Allen junction, later made their way to the Lagos State House of Assembly located at the State Secretariat, Alausa, where they presented their grievances to the lawmakers.

The protesters carried various placards, which read: “Leave our mechanic village alone”, “We want our mechanic villages back”, “COVID-19 is not killing us, Lagos government is killing us”, “Lagos Lands Bureau, Lagos Ministry of Physical Planning, Stop this Inhumanity,” “Leave Owutu Mechanic Village Alone,” “Destroying People’s Livelihoods Contribute to Crime and Insecurity, Stop It,” etc.

According to the chairperson of the Lagos Chapter of NATA, Jacob Fayeun, motor mechanics and technicians across the state have suffered much injustice, as they were kicked out of their workshops, thereby denying them means of livelihood.

He recalled that the workshops and mechanic villages from which they are being ejected were allotted to them as far back ass 1981 during the late Alhaji Lateef Jakande’s administration.

He lamented: “We were allotted mechanic clusters known as mechanic villages to curb the menace of the problematic ‘roadside mechanics’ littering Lagos neighborhoods before that time.

“Unfortunately, since 1999, these public spaces, many of them in difficult marshy areas and canal setbacks redeveloped by the mechanics at great expense are being systematically stolen by government officials under various pretext.

“Most of these places were swampy areas. But after developing them, the state government will turn back and take it from us,” Mr. Fayeun said.

Mr. Fayeun alleged, till date, not less than six workshops located at Ladipo have been taken from his members, two of which were turned ‘park and pay.’

“Fayinka took six in Ladipo alone,” he stressed, adding,  “throughout Lagos, they demolished 11 mechanic villages. We want the Lagos state government to direct Fayinka to return all the demolished mechanic villages and lands.

“The said Fayinka took over a workshop belonging to a mechanic, Mr. Adediran Ogunmuyiwa last September 2019. The forceful take-over led to a protracted illness and death of the poor man on May 25, 2020.

“Fayinka also demolished the Ifelagba Mechanic Village through the Lagos State Land Bureau because we refused to pay an arbitrary levy of N57.5 million imposed on us, apart from the annual Ground Rent we pay to the Ministry of Transport.

“The Lagos State government has shown utter disdain for the Nigerian Constitution which under Section 16 (2D) guarantees the right of all Nigerians to gainful employment.”

The mechanics and technicians took their protest to the Lagos House of Assembler, where they were addressed by lawmakers, who promised to set up an appropriate committee to resolve their complaints.

When contacted over the allegations of the NATA members, the Special Adviser to the State Governor on Transportation, Mr. Fayinka, said the allegations against him and the state government were untrue.

According to him, most of the land lands being used by the mechanics were given to the Ministry of Transportation to hold on trust with terms and conditions.

“For instance,” he stressed, “if a mechanic is given a letter of allocation, it is not permanent. You must not put a permanent structure on the place, you must not use it for any other purpose other than mechanic work, you must not sublet it. Most of these mechanics build renting shops on the land and abandon its primary responsibility of being able to mechanic workshop and convert it to the shopping complex. That is why mechanic yards that flout the rules are automatically revoked.

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