Some traders affected by the ongoing demolition of Agboju Market in Festival Town (also known as FESTAC Town), Lagos, are in tears over the demolition of their “source of livelihood.”
The traders have blamed market leaders for “insincerity” over the exercise.
Bulldozers rolled into the market, last Friday and pulled down the structures, just as the traders started displaying their goods for sale.
Some of the affected traders said the demolition issue had been ongoing between the state government and the traders.
They, however, expressed shock over the exercise, which occurred before the seven-day quit notice issued them expired.
A trader, Uzo Thomas, said they assumed the demolition would be done, today, after the notice would have elapsed yesterday.
“To our surprise, Friday morning, we were displaying our goods, we just started hearing, ‘pack, pack,’ we thought it was a joke. Before we knew it, bulldozers started bringing everything down,” he said.
Another trader, Mrs Anulika Chukwu, said last Thursday, officials of Amuwo Odofin Local Government came to warn them not to sell on the walk ways, which they complied with.
“If we had known beforehand, I wouldn’t have spent the money I had buying goods for sale,” she lamented.
However, some other traders said the land where the market was situated was a buffer zone, with pipelines running underneath and electric cables overhead.
Yet, another trader, Olawale Ashakaba, said: “This is a Federal Government property; there are pipelines running under here. I believe there’s something our leaders are not telling us,” he said.
Another trader, Mrs. Blessing Ogomchi, added: “Nobody knows exactly what is going on or what is going to happen. The leaders haven’t even called a meeting to tell traders what is going on.
“If, indeed, there’s going to be a new market, how long will it take to be completed; how many months or years?”
The Iyaloja General of Amuwo Market, Mrs. Osinatu Adebayo, refuted allegations of foul play.
“No. No, it’s not true. The problem is that the market is too rough and the state government called us to say they want to rebuild it to a modern market.
“They would have finished building it but we’ve been delaying and begging for more time, ‘please allow us to sell for Christmas’ or ‘please let us sell for Easter’.”
She said buying and selling will continue as usual, once the site has been cleared.
Adebayo pledged her commitment to the traders, in ensuring that they all get shops when the new market is completed.
“My children are also traders, here, so I can’t allow things get spoiled. Before outsiders get shops, all the traders would be considered first,” she affirmed.
Another official, who declined to be named, said he wasn’t sure how long it would take to complete the project.
He, however, urged the traders not to kick against modernisation of the market.