By Ebun Sessou
Desmond Eyika was one of the traders in Ladipo Auto Spare Parts Market whose shops were demolished by the officials of Lagos State Government.
The demolition exercise according to him was carried out on Monday this week, a week after the market was closed down by the same government on the ground that the market was unclean. As at the time of this report, over six hundred shops have been destroyed and more than 5,000 people have been rendered jobless in the processes.
Eyika who wouldn’t leave any stone unturned alleged that such act was a move to undo the Igbos in Lagos. For him, it is hatred and perpetual evil done on the Igbos who have come to Lagos to transact their businesses.
Lamenting his loss, he said, “You can see that majority of traders in this market are Igbos, just a few are from other tribes. First, it was an unscheduled visit by Governor Babatunde Fashola on Saturday during Sanitation exercise. He told us that the market would be closed due to violation of environmental law, and that the same will not be opened until it is properly cleaned.
The market was shut down for one week and while we were praying and hoping that it would be re-opened on Monday the following week, the next thing we saw was hundreds of Police Officers chasing people away and stopping their entrance to the market.
“After a while, our Chairman told us that we have been instructed to pack our properties and quit the shops because some shops would be pulled down. And while, we were trying to sort out ourselves, the next thing I saw was a bulldozer. We were not allowed to pack our goods”.
Asked if there was notice prior to the demolition exercise, he said, “There was no notice whatsoever. We were caught unaware. They said, Fashola said the canal was too dirty. Some people said that, the Governor demanded us to move our shops 20 meters away from the canal. It is unfortunate the people have been exposed to untold hardship without anyone thinking of the alternative way of helping them.
“I am already stranded, there is nowhere to go, nowhere is secured and I don’t if Gov. Fashola is taking the right step. As it is now, I am not sure if I will be able to secure all my goods. They have taken away my only source of livelihood. This government cannot provide jobs for people but it can only destroy people’s businesses”.
Another trader who does not want his name mentioned said, “ There is a group of individuals who own some portions of land in Ladipo, a place called Bakassi. The group had connived with the State government to destroy all the shops in Ladipo.
“Last year, this partilacular group stormd the market and pulled down some portions without checking their action. After some months, they dragged some shop owners to court and their action was backed up by law. And that is why we feel there are more riddles in this whole exercise than what the people know. I believe the action has political undertones because all the shops in the market were built by Mushin local government except some few ones that individuals built”.
An apprentice who joined his brother some months ago in Ladipo market lamented that the exercise was only carried out by the State government to wreak them. “These people want me to go back to square one and I reject that”.
Lamenting the extent of damage the exercise has caused his family, another apprentice said, “My sister, you can see me. I have family at home. My two children are in school and I have not paid their school fees because there is no money for that”.
Another cut in, “Go and tell Fashola say, we dey vex, make e no bi say, we come Lagos, we go dey stranded because of one government wey no get human face. If dey wan send us back to we village, make dem tell us instead of all these rubbish.
Speaking to Saturday Vanguard, Mr Murry, said, “We can no longer feed our families. I have four children and there are others: my wife, mother, siblings and relatives. They have been affected with this event. I don’t have money for my rent because it has expired. Even the boys working with me have been rendered jobless. “Getting money these days is like going to hell. I have about two shops, one has been demolished. My only hope is the second shop.
“The situation now is that we are not selling our goods and that is why we are running at loss. We are all hungry. We want our father, Governor Fashola to help us. We want our business back. We are not against Gov Fashola, but the action is cruel”, he said.
Another trader who shed more light on the issue said, “The order came from Fashola that the market should be closed. He said some shops were very close to the canal and that we should create a space of about 20 meters away from the canal on both sides and that was what has happened.”
Asked if there was notice given to the people before the exercise took place, he said, “We were served notice and given instruction on how to go about it but due to human nature, there was no respionse until the officers of LagosState government brought their bulldozer. The market was too congested but people were reluctant to adhere to the order until the government forced its way in. Right now, we are all bleeding because all of our goods worth several millions of naira have been destroyed. Some people sold their goods on auction so that they will not be totally stranded. As good as the exercise can be, the fact remains that we have been shattered. It is just like a pregnant woman who wants to give birth in the labour room. There is a contraction within but after the birth, she will rejoice. We believe that after this action, we will rejoice,” he added.
Asked if he is optimistc of having his shop back in Ladipo market, he said, “I don’t know for now. I need to go and have a rethink to know the next line of action. Now, the brain is still occupied, the heart is still bleeding. We are all hungry and starving and that is why you see people voilating laws. Those who rented the place to us have absconded leaving us to bear the brunt alone.
“They have exposed us to untold hardship because of their greed.This is a wake -up call for Lagosians to know that this present administration in LagosState meant every bit of its promise. I can recall that during the first tenure of Gov Fashola’s administration, he had warned that the development in Lagos State (Megacity phenomenon) is initiated for the elites and that those who cannot afford such life can go back to their villages to farm, I think, this is the time”, he concluded.