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Women traders at the old Eight Miles Market in Calabar on Tuesday took to the streets of the capital city to protest their eviction from the market.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the traders were relocated to the new Ikot Eneobong Market by the Calabar Municipal Area Council.

The protesters, numbering at least 300, blocked the Murtala Muhammed Highway, close to the Army checkpoint in Calabar.

They marched round the Junction, carrying green leaves and chanting solidarity songs.

They urged the council authorities to allow them to return to Eight Miles Market.

Their Spokesperson, Mrs Mary Aniefiok, said they could no longer cope with the low sales, high taxation, multiple ticket payments and deplorable road condition to the new market.

“We pay as much as N40,000 for a space and our sales have continued to decline since we were forced down to this place.

“The road leading to the market is also dilapidated and impassable, making it difficult for customers to come here to patronise us.

“They sent us away from the former market, claiming that it was a community land.

“Why did they send us away to a place where there is no access road? This is unacceptable to us,” Aniefiok said.

The women accused the Chairman of Calabar Municipal Area Council, Mr Effefiong Nta, of deploying his aides to disorganise their protest.

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In a reaction, Effefiong said the council merely relocated the traders to a more conducive environment.

He described the old market as an eyesore and situated in an environment that was hazardous to their life.

“The market is situated on a private property and directly by the road. This is the reason we have continued to record accidents on a daily basis there.

“We went to the market in December to sensitise them, after opening the Ikot Eneobong Market, which was long abandoned.

“We also allocated space to all the traders in the new market and ensured that none of them was stranded.

“On the issue of N40,000 payment, it is not true. I am not aware of any amount being paid.

“My instruction was that they should be relocated to the new market and allocated their respective spaces without paying any money.

“If anyone has any receipt or evidence of payment, they should bring it to me,” Effefiong said.

(NAN)

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