Structures erected along the railway route in Ijora and those close to the blocks of flats being constructed by the Lagos State government in the area were yesterday demolished by the state's task force.
Many of the demolished structures were shanties constructed with wood and roofing sheets. When The Guardian got to the scene, many of the residents were seen quickly moving their belongings out of their rooms. Some even went as far as removing their rooftops and other valuables before the caterpillars came close.
Those whose houses were the first set of buildings demolished were not lucky as their appliances and other household items were crushed along with the structures.
Their woes were compounded by the downpour at the time the demolition started. The displaced residents could only move their personal belongings into the rain, with a few having trampoline to cover them.
It was gathered that the affected persons were informed barely three days ago that their structures would be pulled down by the state government yesterday. About 10 persons who questioned the officers for not allowing them to take their belongings were arrested and whisked away after the exercise by the policemen who accompanied the task force officials.
One Sikiru who spoke with The Guardian said when the caterpillar was not seen yesterday (Wednesday), they felt it was just a rumour. But they were caught unawares today (Thursday), as some had even gone to work only to be informed that their structures were being crushed by caterpillars.
The Guardian gathered that about 40 per cent of the displaced residents are commercial sex workers. It was learnt that they pay between N500 and N700 daily as rent to occupy many of the cubicles.
A woman was crying profusely asking where do the state government expect her to go with her four children since she has no husband to help her. Another lady, Rita, wondered why government is wicked to poor and vulnerable people like her who could not rent a decent accommodation. She said she would have moved out of the place before now or never even considered coming to rent a room there if she had the money to rent a decent accommodation.
One of the state government officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to do so, said the affected persons were recalcitrant, as it would be the third time that the structures would be demolished, "but rather than look for alternative accommodation, they went back to erect the structures again.