The executive committee of Golden Tulip Residents Association, who are the occupiers of The Residences managed by UPDC Plc in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos, have lamented violation of agreement while raising alarm on some illegal and criminal activities going on in the facility.
This was contained in a statement by the Association’s Public Relations Officer, Mr. Oke Odhomor.
The occupiers of the apartments clarified that they are not tenants but owners, adding that they invested in the property in 2017 with expectations that the facility will be properly managed by UPDC Plc.
Registering their displeasure, the occupiers said they have been at the mercy of sharp practices by the management company.
According to the occupiers, despite a signed agreement with UPDC Plc, it has violated its rules across clauses which has exposed them to physical dangers and infringed on their health and mental wellbeing which has led to mistrust.
Listing some of the violations, the occupiers mentioned commercial short let operations which according to them has encouraged criminal activities.
“For almost a year, the EXCO has complained to the UPDC management about the short let operations with the building which has attracted unsavoury characters that use the temporary accommodation for illicit activities which include drug use, internet fraud and many more.
It has gotten so bad that residents and thier families are not comfortable within the environment, some have moved out,” the committee was quoted as saying in the statement.
The statement read in part: “There have been so many occasions when we have called in the Festac Divisional Police to arrest youth in these temporary apartments. smoking of illegal substances in the apartments, common areas and the car park and having violet altercations because of fraudulent activities gone bad.
“There was a rape incident which involved 6 youths but it was covered up by the ASCO security personnel (the security company employed by UPDC) and the facility Mangers.
“You may also recall a video that went viral on social media a few months ago were some questionable character in one of the short-let apartments caused a disturbance and were seen throwing naira notes out of their windows to a crowd of people in the car park area.
“There were 3 ASCO security personnel in the crowd captured on that video. It took the action and presence of the police to restore peace and order.
“The short let operations are done with the full connivance of the security personnel and UPDC managers who are profiting from this business to the detriment of legitimate owners.
“To give credence to our concerns, on Saturday 28 November 2020 a team from the NDLEA stormed the UPDC Residence Apartment, Amuwo Odofin LG at about 6:45am and arrested about 48 male occupants of the short let apartments who were in possession of illicit substances and materials all found inside their apartments.
“You can imagine that once criminal elements are comfortable in an environment and have bought over the security personnel it won’t take time for them to take over the environment and upgrade their illegal activities. Genuine residents will be exposed to personal attacks, armed robberies, kidnapping etc by these unsavoury characters.
“The EXCO has made several entreaties to UPDC verbally and officially (we have the letters as evidence) requesting that they terminate the running of the short let operations because it is the source of the illegal activities but to no avail.
“2. Building Intergrity:
The EXCO has repeatedly asked UPDC to carry out an integrity assessment of the building.
“The building had been unused for over 30 years before it was renovated by UPDC and there are very significant evidence of rising damp and structural weaknesses which allows a significant amount of rain water to penetrate into the apartments.
“UPDC brushed aside our concerns as is their usual custom.
“However in early November a section of the ceiling of the 4th floor caved in. We thank God that no one was injured.
“A team from LASEMA and the Lagos State Building Control Agency visited the site to carry out a preliminary inspection and the recommendation was for the building to be evacuated until a building integrity test is carried out.
“They also stated that there has been non-compliance by UPDC to Lagos State building regulations specifically there is no evidence of structural integrity test and comprehensive structural stability report and no evidence of certificate of completion and fitness for habitation before use of the structure.
“3. Health and Safety Violations:
A few months ago the EXCO carried out an inspection of the HVAC system and were shocked at several health and safety violations that they found within the complex.
“1. There is a high pressured gas pipeline feeding the IPP which runs along the perimeter fence of the complex. UPDC Plc has allowed abandoned vehicles to be parked on top of the gas pipeline.
“We have made several complaints to UPDC Plc about the vehicles parked on this pipeline that has the potential to cause an explosion if not cleared but our concerns have fallen on deaf ears.
“2. We have recently discovered that there is another potential hotspot right within the complex. Behind the shopping mall, there is a gas tank that houses two giant compressed gas cylinders which is designed to have a cooling system to ensure that the compressed air and gas do not reach extremely high temperature and explode.
“Apparently the cooling system has been faulty for several years and is yet to be fixed by UPDC Plc so this chamber is running without the required and essential component.
“The gas chamber is situated directly behind the shopping mall which attracts over two thousand people daily many of whom are children!
“There is also a Children fun park very close to the gas tank. The children park attracts over 500 children during the weekend.
“This potentially dangerous life threatening situation has been left unresolved for several years.
“You can imagine the impact of an explosion of this magnitude, the loss of lives and damage to properties.
“The public outcry will be unprecedented especially as this will be coming on the back of the recent explosions in Lagos.
“4. Title Documents:
Since 2017, all owners of the apartments have not received their title documents despite several requests for their release. Earlier this year UPDC Plc assured us that the documents will be handed to us by 26 August 2020. This has not happened till date and our requests are ignored.
“How is it possible that a company of its reputation will act in such a deceitful manner?
For many residents one of the attractions for purchasing the apartment was the recreational facilities to be enjoyed by their families.
“UPDC Plc stated that there would be a rooftop area open to residents and a designated area within the complex for recreational activities.
“Till date the rooftop area has not been opened up for residents and the designated area in the complex has been converted by UPDC Plc into an events venue.
“They have installed a marquee which is rented out every weekend for social events. Residents cannot relax and enjoy a peaceful weekend and are faced with noise pollution every weekend from parties that run till late at night; personal parking spaces are taken over by the party goers and residents don’t have places to park their cars; influx of petty thieves who pilfer and destroy properties.
“The noise pollution suffered by residents every weekend because of events at the marquee is unbearable and disruptive.
“This is not what we signed up for. Recreational facilities are essential for our mental health and well -being. Our children have nowhere to run around and relax and are confined within the walls of the apartment. Prisoners enjoy recreational facilities within the prisons and yet legitimate owners of properties are denied this essential facility because of the selfish interest of UPDC Plc that wants to maximise its profits.
Since 2017 residents have been complaining about the poor quality of water running into the apartments. The water is coloured and extremely unhygienic. Residents have complained on several occasions for this issue to be resolved and till date the water is not suitable for use yet we are billed for supply of water treatment chemicals.
“7. Dirty Environment:
In October we had an issue where a massive snake was found and killed within the complex. The presence of the snake may mean that there are others maybe even within the building itself.
“We have families living here whose peace of mind will be at stake if they encounter these reptiles.
“If the complex is kept clean, well maintained and grass is kept low, there would have been no hiding place for this snake. The presence of the snake is an indication of rodents in the area which leads us to believe that the UPDC Plc waste disposal, cleaning, gardening, fumigation services are not efficient. Why then are residents paying exorbitant fees for these services and not getting value for money?
“8. Service Charge:
UPDC arbitrarily increases it’s service charge without approval
“In the rules and regulations given to residents upon purchase of the apartments, UPDC Plc stated that service charge will be jointly agreed between UPDC Plc and residents.
“However UPDC Plc has continually increased the service charge without our approval.
“We originally signed for N500,000 only as deposit but ever since UPDC has increased it from N500,000 to N800,000 to N940,000 and to N1,045,000 which we have strongly resisted.
“UPDC Plc resorted to cutting off the electricity of some owners to coerce them to pay their high charges which are not justified.
“Sometimes the situation lasts for several months and the flats are kept in darkness.
“UPDC has also been spending millions of Naira from the budget without the approval of the EXCO.
“For example, they have made 2 quarterly payments of over N5.2m for the maintenance of the HVAC system and several other payments to vendors without getting approval from the EXCO.
“The spending of unapproved funds is a financial crime with grave consequences.
“The NDDC is facing a similar case where expenditure was carried out on unbudgeted funds without approval.
“UPDC Plc has used the vendors they provided to milk the account of the resident association.
“There was an instance when UPDC Plc presented N1,750,000 as estimate to repair one of the cooling system at one of the floors.
“To our amazement, when we sought the opinion from another company it was discovered that N10,000 only was needed to fix the fault.”