Years back, Gowon Estate in Egbeda, Mosan Okunola local council development area of Lagos State, could conveniently pass as a high brow residential area and was therefore much sought after by many Nigerians.
It was one of the estates set up by former military head of state, General Yakubu Gowon, to house participants during the World Festival of Arts and Culture, FESTAC, which took place in 1977.
After FESTAC 77, the buildings were allocated to Nigerians on owner-occupier basis through a popular and transparent ballot system. Some of the buildings were, however, acquired by the Nigeria Police, Nigeria Navy, Nigeria Air Force as well as the Nigeria Customs which allocated same as residential quarters to some of their officers.
Today, the two major markets in the estate are named after a former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Osun State governor, Rauf Aregbesola.
At inception, Gowon Estate boasted basic infrastructural amenities such as motorable roads, stable power supply and adequate security which met international standard.
But this presently is not the case as the place has since fallen into disrepair. In fact, apart from the absence of infrastructural amenities, the estate has become one big eye sore which residents attribute to lack of maintenance by the Federal Housing Authority.
During Vanguard Metro’s recent visit to the estate, many residents expressed fear about a possible outbreak of epidemic due to the absence of a sewage system and the fact that the drainage ways have been encroached upon. Also the residents have no access to potable water; they rely mostly on water from any source, sometimes at exorbitant cost. Apart from that, 99 percent of the roads in the estate have become death traps and most of the buildings are dilapidated.
Some of residents, including Mr Michael Elalor, Davies Aluede, Fidelis Edewor and Ejiro Jarikre, complained bitterly about the development which has grounded commercial activities in the estate.
According to them, due to the bad roads, many residents now trek home everyday, leaving their vehicles parked at the roadsides at the mercy of street urchins.
During VM’s visit, it was observed that a good section of the estate has been taken over by shanties and illegal structures, many of which residents said play host to hoodlums, especially at night.
Some residents who bared their minds on the issue said the development has given rise to nefarious activities at the estate.
But residents were particularly concerned about the deplorable condition of the roads there, especially at 4th Avenue as well as 411 road. “My sister, it is usually terrible any time it rains. Many of us usually relocate from the estate and come back after the rains, ” lamented some of the residents.
They also informed that no fewer than four children were swept away in year 2013, during a downpour that lasted for several hours.
At the Sewage Road end of the estate, VM observed that some structures meant for transferring of sewage into raw materials have been illegally allocated to people although residents said this was facilitated by some unscrupulous elements in the Federal Housing Authority.
As for Christiana Solomon, who moved into the estate about three decades ago: “When I moved into this estate, it was comparable with today’s Lekki, but today, things have gone bad and the estate is now a haven for hoodlums. Flood is also a major problem, especially when it rains”.
A source in the estate hinted that the local council, state and Federal Housing Authority usually visit owners of illegal structures and shanties to collect levies and dues which are not used to develop the estate.
Mrs Bisi Akinyelure informed that during the last rainy season, a balcony fell and killed two children. “Most of the buildings are dilapidated due to the fact that the estate has long been neglected by government, ” chorused Madam Nonyen Chidinma and Tiwalola Ajenifuja.