By Kazeem Ugbodaga
The popular Ile-Epo Foodstuff Market in Agbado Oke-Odo Local Council Development Area, Abule Egba area of Lagos has been demolished to pave way for a modern market befitting a mega city.
Scores of task force officials, who are well armed supervised the demolition of the markets and ensured that there was no resistance from the traders.
Bulldozers were seen pulling down structures in the market at around 8.00am on Friday while others used sledge hammers in demolishing the market.
Traders were seen frantically trying to evacuate their wares as the police gave them ample time to do so. Traders were seen running helter and skelter trying to salvage their wares.
Many packed their wares on the median and roads, thus, causing traffic gridlock. The expressway had been blocked as traders packed their wares on the road.
The demolition is being carried out by the Agbado Oke-Odo LCDA, in conjunction with the developer, Total Value Integrated Limited.
A trader, who craved anonymity said they were given notice to evacuate the market, but said the notice was took short, even as she called on the government to come to their aid as they had nowhere to go.
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, government should come to their aid as their means of livelihood had been taken away from them, while another trader Inusa Saliu also wanted the government to help them to get another place to carry out their trading activities.
Mrs. Augustina Egbuonu, 68, who claimed to be the Financial Secretary of the Ile-Epo Market Association, 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 said 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.
But the Managing Director, Total Value Integrated Limited, Chris Onyekachi said the traders were giving 18 months notice to vacate the market for redevelopment, but that 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 carry 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 at discounted rate to own shops in the market before others.
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.
However, the redevelopment project was awarded to the investor, Total Value Integrated Limited, the company that will redevelop the market within 12 months from the commencement of construction. The developer is committing about N2 billion to redevelop the market.
On completion, the market will have banking hall, police post, car park, a garage where trailers from the North would offload their wares, fire station, among others.