Oyo State Commissioner of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Mr Williams Akin-Funmilayo, has stated that the planned Housing Estate Project, Baywood Estate, would not consume the Agodi Botanical Gardens.
He stated this while conducting newsmen round the Agodi Botanical Gardens and the planned site of the estate, noting that, the clarifications became important to educate the people of the state.
The commissioner, who noted that, some residents of the state have confused the site of the planned estate to include Agodi Botanical Gardens, clarified that while the garden sits on 9.11 hectares of land, the large expanse of 46.3 hectares of forest behind the Gardens is to be converted to Baywood Housing Estate.
Mr Akin-Funmilayo while nothing that, Agodi Gardens is one of the remaining legacies inherited by the Governor ‘Seyi Makinde administration, maintained that the recreational facility would be protected and even upgraded to an international Botanical Garden in due course.
The commissioner equally debunked the false allegation that the state government had been cutting down the trees in the forest, adding that the state government has taken the decision that 80 per cent of the trees in the forest would be retained despite the housing estate project.
He explained that the government has taken the proactive step to convert the forest to a housing estate because the forest has become a hideout for hoodlums, thieves, kidnappers and perpetrators of many heinous acts, not only in the night but also in broad daylight.
Responding to how the conversion of forest to a housing estate could impact on climatic conditions, the commissioner said: “One of the values of this estate is the preservation of these trees and that is why the name of the estate is ‘Baywood.’ So, the wood is highly significant.
“Oyo State residents should know and rest assured that the government will preserve this forest to the best of our ability, because this administration understands the implications of deforestation and its import on climate change. There might be a few casualties in the provision of infrastructure, but I can tell you that they will be re-planted.
“When this project is completed, it is going to be in a world of its own and a beauty to behold. So, I am reassuring you that the state government has nothing to do with Agodi Gardens as far as the estate construction is concerned. The area that will be converted to an estate is where we are now.
“The reality is that people cannot pass through this road freely between 7 p.m. and 8 a.m.without fear, because of the high rate of criminality around this corner and the fact that there is vast forest to escape into. Thus, the government is justified for trying to add value to the environment by providing housing instead of keeping the forest and allowing it to remain a habitat for criminals, kidnappers, and evil doers in the society.
“The government of Oyo State does not have any intention to convert Agodi Garden to a housing estate. The plan is to upgrade the garden to an international botanical garden, which will serve the people of Oyo State better than it is right now,” Akin-Funmilayo added.