By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Amid controversy trailing the demolition of the market which was predominately, Igbo traders, Lagos State Government has insisted that the market was demolished in order to transform the state to African modern Mega city and “build a world class bus terminus” irrespective of its biting effects on the affected traders. Already, the state government had expended over N1 billion on construction of the new Market at Isopakodowo, also located in Oshodi.
Speaking at a press briefing addressed by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy Mr. Steve Ayorinde, and his counterparts in Physical Planning and Urban Development, Environment and Local Government and Community Affairs, Mr. Wasiu Anifowoshe, Dr. Babatunde Adejare and Muslim Folami respectively, said the uproar generated by the demolition was uncalled for.
According to him, the issue of the market has been on for over ten years, adding that the Lagos State Government has been engaging with the leadership of the market on the need to sanitize the axis and the way the market is being used.
“The last administration built Isopakodowo Market close to Bolade and not far from the main Oshodi. Isopakodowo Market has almost 600 shops without counting the K-clamps, which will bring the number of people the market will accommodate to over 1,000. “Satisfied that we have provided a befitting alternative, we started another round of engagement with the leadership of the market. Ultimately, Governor Ambode appealed through the Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs to invite the leadership of the market to the State Executive Council meeting.”He added that the leadership of the market met with the governor on December 16, 2015 at the EXCO Chamber where the governor again pleaded with them and reiterated his plan to transform Oshodi.
“He asked them to relocate to Isopakodowo Market, which has been ready by that time. A few of them expressed certain misgivings. But largely, if their interests are accommodated at the Isopakodowo Market, they expressed their readiness to relocate. We all agreed that discussion should continue, particularly on how much they pay for each shop at Isopakodowo Market.
“After that, Governor Ambode went on tour of the area in company of some members of the State Executive Council. We had a meeting with the leadership of the market. Based on the proposition from their leadership, they said they were willing to pay N5, 000 for each shop. “There is no market in Lagos or anywhere in Nigeria where N5, 000 will be paid for a shop monthly, in such a place like Oshodi. But the governor agreed with them. After they agreed, we served them quit notice from the loop where they have been.
“As a result, a good number of the traders packed their wares before the market was demolished. Our New Year project was to relocate them to Isopakodowo Market. We got intelligence report that a lot of criminal activities are going on there.
“The place was habouring criminals and a number of untoward activities happening there necessitated that the state should move to safeguard life and properties. It was meant to ensure that there was no breach of public order. That was what led to the demolition exercise that took place on Tuesday evening.”The commissioner explained that the intention of the government was not to destroy any goods, noting that goods were not destroyed because almost all of them had moved out.
Ayorinde, however, said while markets would always be in Oshodi, some illegal structures already marked by the state government would have to be demolished to make way for traffic free-flow and crime-free Oshodi axis. He added that a bunker was discovered during the demolition exercise where a number of arms and ammunition were recovered.
“What we have done is in public interest. The aim of the government is to ensure that the area conforms with the type of image we want for Lagos; restore sanity to Oshodi; beautify the market; construct the world class bus terminus and ensure that people who use that place enjoy what it means to go to market in a megacity.
“The design is already for execution. We also believe the exercise will largely reduce the gridlocks associated with the area. It will reduce the criminalities that are rampant around Oshodi. What we have done is in the interest of the generality of Lagos residents. There was nothing hidden about what we did. There was no casualty. There was nothing untoward about our discussion with them. they all agreed to relocate, “ he added.
We are yet accept govt. relocation plans —traders executives
However, some of the traders at the demolished Owonifari Market, Oshodi have rejected Lagos State Government plans to relocate them to Oshodi Resettlement Market (former Isopakodowo Market) over obvious reasons. They added that the available space in the market cannot accommodate the displaced traders.
The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the market, Obinna Nwosu, said that the executives of the market were yet to meet on the State government relocation plans, saying “It is after our meeting that we can decide if we will accept it or not.” He however lamented that there was no notice, no official letter except oral messages that they were coming.
According to him, “There is a court injunction that the government shouldn’t disturb traders in our market because since its renovation in 1999 where the market got burnt, traders voluntarily re-built the market with N750million and every shop was decked. Does a seal order look like a quit notice. They assured us everything was going to be settled that was the reason most of us returned our goods. “