37km Rail-line: Ex-IRWA boss warns against involuntary resettlement

A former president of the International Right of Way Association, Nigeria, Emmanuel Mark, has advised Lagos State Government against involuntary resettlement of would-be impacted persons along the rail-line corridor.

While appealing that such action be avoided or minimised if possible, Mark urged the Lagos government to handle compensation issues as stated in the Land Use Act of 1978, especially if it is funding the project.

The Act is the applicable law regarding ownership, transfer, acquisition and all such dealings.

“The Act vests all land in every state on the State Government, while individuals only enjoy a right of occupancy; if such lands are revoked, the claimant is entitled to the value of the unexhausted development as at the date of revocation. That is what the law says,” said the IRWA former helmsman.

He however noted that for a state like Lagos that prides itself as the ‘Centre of Excellence’ and leads in application of best practice in carrying out government’s businesses, it will be expected that they adhere strictly to the use of international best practice/World Bank policy, which is referred to as OP.4.12.

According to Mark, the policy advocates avoidance or minimisation, but where it is inevitable, compensation should be at full replacement cost.

His words, “Where it has been decided, as in the case of Lagos rail mass transit project, it should be conceived and executed as a sustainable development programme, by providing sufficient investment resources to enable persons displaced by the project share in project benefits.

“The policy further states that persons displaced must be consulted and should have opportunity to participate in the planning and execution of the resettlement; compensated for their losses at full replacement cost prior to civil works.”

Mark said the determination of cost for compensation at full replacement cost including labour and relocation expenses, prior to displacement, can only be done by a sound estate surveyor and valuer.

Meanwhile, it is projected that 297 properties would be knocked down to give way for the 37km rail line construction.

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