We’re worried govt might have shelved its plans – Ikorodu residents
No cause for alarm; relocation plans on course – Lagos govt, royal father
By Kehinde Aderemi
At the moment, uncertainty rules the air in Lagos over plans by the Lagos State government to move the popular Mile 12 Market from its present location.
Earlier in the year, the Lagos State governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, announced plans by his administration to relocate the popular market from Mile 12 to Imota, a sleepy town in Ikorodu area. But right now, it seems the last might not have been heard over the issue. Residents of Imota and its environs are worried that not much seems to be taking place at the proposed site of the market even as the six-month proposed relocation period is almost over.
Many of the residents, including traders within and outside Imota, told the reporter that the planned relocation might have been shelved by the government since no work is currently going on there.
“We are worried because nobody is even sure of the situation. Even though they have prepared the site, there is no hope that anything would happen there anytime soon. Nothing at all is going on at the site right now,” Alhaja Khadijat Ahmad, a trader in Imota, told the reporter.
In the beginning
In the past, successive governments in Lagos have attempted to move the Mile 12 Market, the state’s largest food market, from its present location at Mile 12, Ketu, but such plans have always failed. The immediate past administration of Mr. Babatunde Fashola, the current Minister of Power, Works and Housing, also made another attempt to move the market. Fashola, it was gathered, attempted to move the market from Mile 12 to Parafa, a small community in Ikorodu North Local Council Development Area, but the effort was unsuccessful. The government said the market was to be moved to Parafa in the pursuit of its mega city project.
The government also stated then that the market’s present location was creating lots of traffic bottlenecks for motorists and commuters who play the Mile 12-Ikorodu Road. Many people, in those days, often spend hours between Ikorodu and Mile 12.
Soon after, Lagos State officials moved to Parafa and warned hundreds of residents that their houses were built on government land, and that they would be demolished. But the residents started appealing to Fashola to shelve the plan and look for land elsewhere. Eventually, the government stopped talking about the plans and traders at Mile 12 Market, who have always opposed the panned relocation, heaved a sigh of relief.
Mile 12 crisis
In March this year, a crisis engulfed the Agiliti/Maidan Orile community in Mile 12, in which many people were killed and even more wounded. A number of buildings were razed during the crisis, which led the government to close the market and impose a curfew on the area. Leaders of the Arewa Perishable Foodstuffs Market Association, Mile 12, and other market leaders dissociated themselves from the crisis, which they said occurred a few kilometres from the market. They also expressed regrets over the unfortunate incidents that led to the crisis.
Besides closing the market, the government also set up a panel to probe the immediate and remote causes of the crisis.
Shortly after the incident, Governor Ambode announced plans by his administration to relocate the market to Imota. He went to inspect the new location and said work would be concluded at the new site and the market would be moved there in six months.
On April 12, the governor inspected the new site alongside other projects in the area, including the Imota Rice Mill and Okobaba Sawmill in Agbowa. He immediately directed the Ministry of Physical Planning to begin work on the site within one week.
Said the governor: “We are all aware that we had a little crisis at Mile 12 Market in Ketu recently and right here now is the new site that we are relocating Mile 12 Market to. So, our new commodities market would take off from here, and so I like to give the Ministry of Physical Planning the directive to commence activities here within the next one week,” he said.
The governor said the market’s relocation was in the public interest, adding that the road network would be expanded to accommodate the development.
Ambode added: “We are committed to doing this. We know it is in the interest of all Lagosians that we relocate Mile 12 Market here. The marketers themselves have agreed; the onus is now on us to ensure that we deliver this new market within the next six months.
“I want to appeal to people in Imota that you will be having new set of investors; new set of traders and then new set of tenants. You should be very accommodating because we are bringing a whole lot here.”
Counting their losses
Speaking at a briefing held shortly after the closure of the market, Chairman of the association, Alhaji Haruna Muhammed, lamented that since the closure of the Mile 12 market, all the traders had been counting their losses in millions. He added that all the traders and other stakeholders were losing over N 300 million daily due to the perishable products that was being destroyed everyday as a result of the closure. He appealed to the state governor to re-open the market for normal business.
“We are law-abiding people. The market is being managed by responsible leaders of different ethnic and religious interests who have been living together peacefully for years without any crisis. As much as we express our appreciation to the governor for his proactive steps, we support any measure taken by the state government to ensure security of lives and property,” Muhammed, said.
Northern leaders to the rescue
Shortly after the closure, the Kano State Governor, Dr. Abdullah Ganduje, and his predecessor, Musa Kwankwanso, came to Lagos and met separately with Governor Ambode. Though the outcome of their meetings was not made public, many believe the visits were not unconnected with the situation at Mile 12.
Explaining the reasons for his visit at a briefing, Governor Ganduje told reporters that he came to Lagos to meet the governor to create a platform on how best the two states could synergise and build strong business relationship. He added that Lagos State was a business hub in the country and that Kano State had the wherewithal to build a business partnership with Lagos.
“The two states have a rich history of being cosmopolitan states, therefore, both Lagos and Kano State can build a working synergy in order to improve the lots of the people,” he stated. The governor also urged the traders and all the stakeholders at Mile 12 to cooperate with the state governor to ensure security of lives and property.
Business as usual
The market has since been reopened, and normalcy has returned to the area. At Mile 12 these days, trading activities are in full swing. But since nothing much has been happening at the proposed site of the new market, most people in Imota are of the opinion that the government might have changed its plan on bringing the market to their community.
A leader of the market, who pleaded anonymity, confided in the reporter that relocation was not what anyone was worried about. He said since the market was reopened, everyone had been going about their business in a peaceful manner, adding that there was no reason to relocate the market again.
Market is coming here
The Ranodu of Imota, Oba Mudashiru Ajibade Bakare-Agoro, has no doubts whatsoever that the new market in Imota would be a reality very soon. He told the reporter that there was no cause for anyone to exercise doubts about government’s plan to relocate the market to his community.
“It is a wrong impression for anybody to think that the issue has been swept under the carpet. The project is still ongoing, because the state government has just constituted a committee that will work on the project. There is no delay. It’s just a matter of time and the state government is working on the necessary process before the take off. In a few weeks from now, the contractor will move to site,” he informed.
The traditional ruler explained that residents of Imota and its environs were preparing seriously for the relocation. “We are ready. All the stakeholders in the town are meeting regularly to provide solutions to logistics and security problems that may arise as a result of the relocation. God has prepared us for it and it has come and we are waiting. It is just a question of time. Talks that the plan of the state government to bring the market here has been stopped are coming from the lazy imaginations of rumour mongers,” the royal father said.
Uncertainty in Imota
In spite of the monarch’s assurances, some residents of Imota and its environs are getting worried.
Mr Rilwan Ajayi, a commercial motorcycle operator said: “People are gradually losing hope on the proposed relocation because nothing seems to be happening at the new site these days. The whole place is deserted.”
Mr. Adewale Olusoji, a resident of Imota, was more hopeful. He told the reporter: “Delay is not denial. I believe the proposed relocation will come to pass, though the time may not be as soon as we expect.”
No cause for alarm
The Lagos State government has also assured that the relocation plan was on course. The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, said the government had not discarded the plans to relocate the market, as was being rumoured in some quarters. He explained that there were processes that must be followed, assuring that the project would be done.
His words: “Government has not discarded the relocation of Mile 12 Market to Imota, Ikorodu. There are processes to be followed but the project is on course. It will happen.”