As written by Azuka Onwuka

Anambra people are notorious for moving their property gradually until they get to the gutter by the roadside, including on highways. Because nobody is in charge, people brazenly move beyond the setback provided beside the roads and build until their walls or even houses touch the gutter.

Even the churches (led by the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches) are guilty of this, as can be seen in the photos. Federal government teaching hospitals, state government agencies, local government headquarters, schools, and other government organizations are guilty of this.

Nobody enforces the law on not building beyond a certain point by the roadside.

The few people who build behind the setback look odd in a place where everyone is eager to build even on top of the highway.

Because there is usually no space to mount electricity poles by the roadside, many electricity poles are mounted inside people’s compounds. There is no sidewalk for pedestrians; so they walk on the road. Motorcycles have to drive on the middle of the road because there is no space by the road for them. There is no space to plant flowers and trees by the roadside. Every space has been grabbed.

The danger is that any day the government remembers to dualize roads like Onitsha-Awka road, Oba-Nnewi road, Awka-Amawbia road, Nnewi-Nnobi-Ekwulobia-Umunze road, Nnobi-Agulu road, Nnobi-Nkpor road, Awka-Agulu-Ekwulobia Road, Nnewi-Okija road, etc, there will be many buildings and compound walls to knock down. Those greedy people who went beyond where they should build will start the emotional blackmail against government for destroying their property. Meanwhile, they saw the limit where they should build but chose to grab more land (government land) in front of their property, because land too sweet!

The old single carriage way that runs from Ikorodu in Lagos to Ijebu-Ode on Ogun State should be over 60 years old. The setback beside the road on both side is up to 50 feet or more. The road is hardly used these days because of the Lagos-Sagamu-Ibadan Expressway that replaced it as the exit/entrance to Lagos. Yet these wide setbacks have been maintained all these years. A rail line can even be built on both sides of the road. Nobody is allowed to encroach on the setback. If you build on it, it is immediately marked for demolition. Same thing goes for other roads in Lagos. You are not allowed to build beyond the stipulated limit, whether on FG road or state road. It does not matter that Lagos has the smallest land mass in Nigeria.

Whenever I move round Anambra and see the way people encroach on spaces provided beside the road for future expansion, I feel sad. The encroachment is dangerous even to the culprits, as trucks may run into their homes or offices or shops. Some of these setbacks were made wide for future road dualization or creation of rail lines. But they have been encroached upon by greedy people over the years because nobody is in charge. It is sad.

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