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Residents tackle estate management over N1m project levy

Residents tackle estate management over N1m project levy

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•Management disconnects defaulters’ power supply

Deji Lambo

 Residents of Williams Onoh Street in Chevy View Estate, Lekki, Lagos State, have protested against the N1m “compulsory levy” imposed on each house for a drainage and canal channeling project.

 It was gathered that the management of the estate imposed the levy for the project being done on Williams Onoh Street, saying it would tackle environmental challenges in the area.

 But the residents said the N1m per house was high, adding that they could not afford it.

 PUNCH Metro gathered that matter came to a head after the management of Chevy View Estate sent letters to residents instructing them to pay the levy or be disconnected from power supply.

 The letter read in part, “We are writing to remind you of the outstanding N1,000,000 (one million naira only) for PPP, which is a compulsory levy for every resident on William Onoh Street, towards the ongoing drainage and canal channeling project.

 “The rains are here, and we are short of funds; this levy will ensure that the ongoing drainage construction on William Onoh is finished on time.

 “We, therefore, once again, appeal to you to endeavour to make this payment by the close of business on Monday, 14th of May, 2018.

 “Please note that residents who refused to comply will be disconnected from electrical supply on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.”

 One of the residents, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said when he received the letter, he thought that the management was making an empty threat.

He said, “I received a notification on May 11, 2018, for an outstanding payment of N1m for the project. The estate management said the electrical supply of anyone who refused to comply by close of business on Monday 14, would be disconnected on May 15. I thought it was a joke.

“Now, they have disconnected my power supply. What is the legal basis for them to cut off my power source? Do they pay my electrical bills? And where do they expect us to find N1m in three days?”

PUNCH Metro gathered that the government had marked some houses built on a canal in the area for demolition.

Another resident, who also declined to be identified, said, “But to prevent the demolition, the management members took up the idea of constructing a new canal. They intend to use this new canal as a case to make the government cancel the demolition notices on the marked houses that were constructed on the old canal.

“We were told that if the government comes to carry out the demolition, they will claim that they had already built a new one which will take water away.

“This project is actually being driven by people that are affected. But to give it legitimacy, they sold the idea to the management of Chevy View Estate.

“I would have thought that it should be those people whose houses had been marked that would pick up the bills. Many houses are not marked for demolition, including mine.

“Why is everybody on the street paying N1m each for the indiscretion of a few who wanted to build houses on the estate at all cost? Why am I paying the same amount with the guys that had issues with the physical planning unit of the government?

“I and many others are in good standing as far as the estate dues are concerned.

“And if I disagree with imposition of an unnecessary levy you placed on me, it doesn’t give you the right to cut off my electrical supply.  Eko Electrical Distribution Company (EEDC) is the company supplying me power. If I don’t owe Eko Disco, why did the management of Chevy View Estate disconnect my power supply?”

Another resident on the estate said those who refused to pay were preparing for a “huge fight” with the management.

“I heard they are planning to publish the names of those that did not comply with the N1m imposed levy at the estate gate. It is possible that in a few days time, I may want to drive into the estate and they will shut the gate against me,” he said.

PUNCH Metro learnt that Williams Onoh Street had been dug and vehicles could no longer ply the street.

During a chat with another resident, who for personal reasons declined identification, it was learnt that nobody was told when the road was dug.

The resident said, “A couple of weeks ago, I was coming back from the office and I realised that I could not get into my street. They were digging up the road; they want to build the canal. I was upset because I was not notified before the project began; I just got back from work and I couldn’t get home.

“It is really inconvenient for me because now, I have to back my three-year-old baby every day. There is no proper footpath to take and I cannot buy water because there is no way for any water tanker to enter the street.

“I pay a fee of N46,000 every quarter as estate dues. And when you pay your dues, the management will take down your phone number and your house address. So if they checked their records, they will know where I live and how to contact me to notify me about the project.

 “When they came to disconnect power, they came with two policemen and one of them had a gun.

 “Essentially, they wanted us to part with N1m without blinking. They are making my life miserable and trampling upon my fundamental rights as a citizen of Nigeria.”

The estate manager, identified simply as Paul, told our correspondent on the telephone that the project commenced last month.

On why the estate management charged N1m fee and disconnected the power supply of defaulters, he said, “I am not too comfortable regarding the information you are trying to extract from me.

“I will not answer any question until you come to the office.”

Subsequent efforts to book an appointment with the estate manager proved abortive as he declined to pick up his calls.

The Public Relation Officer of EEDC, Mr. Godwin Idemudia, said, “I have investigated. The management of the estate has no right whatsoever to disconnect our customers in order to achieve their own goal. We are going to take it up with the estate. It is illegal for them to have disconnected residents with prepaid meters.”

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