By Kazeem Ugbodaga
The popular Ikosi-Ketu Fruit Market in Ketu area of Lagos, Southwest Nigeria was on Friday demolished to pave way for a modern market in the area.
The Ikosi-Isheri Local Council Development Area, LCDA, has awarded the reconstruction of the dilapidated market to Total Value Integrated Service Limited, which is committing about N2.8 billion for reconstruction.
Around 10.00am on Friday, two bulldozers, escorted by policemen, mostly from task force stormed the market to ensure that there was no resistance during the demolition.
There was initial resistance from touts in the market who hauled bottles at the police. The police responded by shooting sporadically in the air to scare away the touts and also shot several canisters of teargas to disperse traders unwilling to leave the market.
Some traders, who were in the market earlier were able to rescue some of their wares, but others were not so lucky as they were prevented from gaining access into the market to salvage their wares.
Some of the traders lamented that they were informed sometimes ago about the demolition, but said they were not informed a day prior to the pulling down of their shops.
One of the local Coordinators of the Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, in the area, Adebowale Adetona said they were informed some weeks ago that they were coming to demolish the market, but that they did not notify them of the latest development.
But Chris Onyekachi, Managing Director, Total Value Integrated Service Limited, when contacted told newsmen that the traders were giving adequate notice to vacate the market for redevelopment, adding that series of meetings were held with the traders union, traditional rulers and council members on the proposed reconstruction of the market.
“We gave them notice three weeks ago which has expired and we gave them another seven days notice to move their wares to other areas of the market. They are aware,” he said.
“We held meetings with the Iya Olojas, Baba Olojas and we agreed on the mode of demolition. Some people kicked against it and because we want peace to reign, we met with the obas and we saw reasons why the market should be reconstructed. Some miscreants don’t want the redevelopment. We are not interested in chasing people away from the market. Those who owns shop earlier will be considered first in re-allocation at a discounted rate.
“We want to upgrade the market to meet the Lagos mega city standard and we are doing it in phases. We will not shut the whole market. The development will be in four phases and the market occupies 25 acres. We have 18 month duration to rebuild the market and we will invest about N2.8 billion in the reconstruction. The reconstruction of the first phase will begin in January,” he said.