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Retiree battles Lagos cake factory over pollution

Retiree battles Lagos cake factory over pollution

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Samson Folarin

A retiree, Gbenga Ogunsanwo, has raised the alarm over alleged pollution of his house by a cake factory on Muritala Muhammed Way, Alagomeji, in the Yaba area of Lagos State.

According to Ogunsanwo, the factory, Tokaib Cakes, which is beside his house, releases fumes which pollute the environment.

The 69-year-old said he had written to the Chairman, Yaba Local Government Area; General Manager, Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency; Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command; and the Lagos State Governor’s Office, Alausa,  adding that nothing came out of his complaints.

However, the factory owner, Temiloluwa Adelana, said the Ijebu Ode, Ogun State indigene was only crying wolf where there was none.

She noted that her factory’s extractors only blew air above the roof of the sexagenarian’s bungalow.

Ogunsanwo told our correspondent that he decided to write the government after his peaceful entreaties were rebuffed.

He said, “The cake factory was opened about two years ago. I live in a bungalow with my two children, home help and some dependants. My apartment is beside the industrial blowers of the cake factory.

“I have been going to meet the owner of the factory to explain my plight. My grandchildren, who came to spend their holidays with me, suddenly developed catarrh and cough. I took them to her.

“I told her that they did not bring the infections to my house and since they had been having the problems, I had spent money on hospital bills.  The woman, however, said we were complaining because her factory did not give us cakes to eat.

“I had to take the children back to their parents. I felt sad when they started crying because they did not want to leave. But I was afraid of the consequences of what they were breathing in in my house.”

Ogunsanwo said he was managing to survive the inconvenience when the factory owner allegedly acquired additional industrial blower.

He claimed that when he went to complain about the development, the owner called his bluff.

“I told her that what she was doing was causing environmental pollution and I had informed my engineers who said the only solution was for her to buy chimneys.

“She said it was too expensive; expensive at the cost of my life and that of my children? I told her that I had initially been personal and would henceforth make my complaints official; she said I should go ahead.

“I wrote four letters to the local government, LASEPA, the police and the state governor; they have not responded. Meanwhile, we are dying of this pollution that can lead to lung cancer and brain tumour. I have been in the bondage of locking all windows and doors of my house during their operation.

“Around 7.25pm yesterday (Monday), they had a night production. Death is staring us in the face,” he added.

PUNCH Metro obtained letters the complainant sent to the government.

“Up to this day, the company has defied all entreties by polluting the air with their industrial blowers blowing directly to my house. We had been in bondage, locking ourselves up. The walls by the ceilings now show dust particles. We were awoken before 6am today as usual with the pungent choking and hazardous fumes from their industrial blowers. We are dying slowly. Save us from the anxiety of imminent death,” a reminder to LASEPA, dated August 20, 2018, read in part.

The owner of Tokaib Cakes, Adelana, denied the allegations.

While insisting that the blowers were above Ogunsanwo’s roof, she said the facility had been inspected by council officials.

She said, “The roof of his bungalow is below the extractors. And the extractors don’t blow fumes; they blow air. If you come into our company, you will discover that we don’t have heat; it is just for some form of ventilation. And the blowers are not close to his window. He is making all these up.

“I don’t know why he is just interested in making trouble with us. Some environmental officials from the local government visited us recently for inspection and they discovered his allegations were baseless.”

The spokesperson for LASEPA, who did not identify herself, said she could not react to the case.

“I will need to look into it to see if he wrote a letter of complaint in the first place and how far they (LASEPA officials) have gone and what has been done on the issue. And the only person that can even react is the general manager. If you want to hear anything from LASEPA, you (should) come to LASEPA to see the GM. He is the only person that can talk on such matters,” she said.

The spokesperson for the police, CSP Chike Oti, said although the police were a crime fighting organisation, the state Commissioner of Police, Edgal Imohimi, was knowledgeable on the dangers of air pollution.

He noted that if a petition had been sent to the command, it would be referred to the appropriate government agency for investigation and action.

.Copyright PUNCH.

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