*As traders, developer disagree over demolition notice
By Monsuru Olowoopejo
Hundreds of traders were yesterday displaced when officials of Lagos State Environmental Sanitation and Special Offence Unit (Task Force) supervised demolition of popular Ile-Epo Foodstuff Market in Agbado Oke-Odo Local Council Development Area, LCDA.
The officials, who were well armed, supervised the market demolition ensuring that none of the traders interfered with the exercise. Saturday Vanguard gathered that the demolition was embarked upon by the State Government, the council, in conjunction with the developer, Total Value Integrated Limited, to pave way for a modern market.
The project is expected to be completed in 12 months from commencement date.
On completion, the market would have banking hall, police post, car park, a garage where trailers from the North would offload their wares, fire station, among others.
When our correspondent visited the scene, bulldozers were sighted pulling down structures within the market while structures in areas inaccessible by bulldozer were removed with sledge hammers by officials As the demolition intensified, traders were sighted beside the tractors, trying to salvage their wares.
The Managing Director, Total Value Integrated Limited, Chris Onyekachi, said the traders were given 18 months notice to vacate the market for redevelopment, but while some had left the market, others refused to do so.
“We have given them nothing short of 18 months notice to leave the market. Many of them have packed out while some remained. We came here around 7:30am for the demolition. We have given them alternative place in the market.
“We are not demolishing the whole market now. We are doing it in three phases,” he said, adding that the market was an eyesore not befitting a mega city like Lagos.
Onyekachi faulted claims that the developer connived with the NURTW and the council to drive the traders out of the market, saying it was all a rumour as there was no element of truth in the claim. “People will always spread rumour but we have nothing to do with the union to take over the market. We gave them good time to leave. The place is an eyesore. What we are doing is for the good of the public,” he said. He added that once the redevelopment of the market was complete, the traders would be given preference before others at discounted rate to own shops in the market.
Onyekachi said change was always hard to come by and that people would normally resist such, but that in the end, it would be for the good of all, adding that the first phase of the market redevelopment would be completed between three and four months.
According to the traders however, the demolition notice issued was very short for them to look for another location to continue their business considering the nature of their business.
The Financial Secretary of the Ile-Epo Market Association, Mrs. Augustina Egbuonu, said she had been in the market for 20 years and that she invested N18 million in the market, but lamented that it had gone down the drain with the demolition.
She alleged that the developer, the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW and the council connived to drive them out of the market so that they could give the union a park inside the market.
Another trader, who simply identified himself as Zakariya lamented that he did not know where to go after his shop had been demolished, but he admitted that the traders were given notices to vacate the market.
According to a trader, Mama Muiz, their means of livelihood had been taken away from them, while another trader Inusa Saliu also wanted the government to help them get another place to carry out their trading activities.