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Traders bemoan plight face to face with transformation

… Council boss refutes traders' claims

THE word “developer” now synonymous with markets all over Lagos state, is perceived by some traders as a ploy set to dispossess long-time traders of their allotment within the market space. These are business-driven contractors who allegedly team-up with government to fleece the ignorant traders of their hard-earned money, in the guise of giving them a suitable market structure that befits a mega city like Lagos.
To many bewildered traders, the idea of bringing in developers to construct a befitting market for the people is another option in the hands of government to take over markets: “Wherever they cannot succeed with the developer scheme, they set markets ablaze and swing into action by offering their poise to give the burnt market a new look. The likely instance is the recent burnt Iponri market saga.”
At the heart of the issue is the Oja- Oba market under the control of the Orile-Agege LCDA, which according to inside source accommodates traders from nook and cranny of the state, given its strategic location, since 2011, the council embarks on market re-structure, a planned scheme intended to last for one and half years, but due to hiccups that limit the achievement of the set target had to be taken up by developers who took up the construction with the intent of outright sale after completion.
The hard nut to crack in the whole saga remains the plight of petty traders who sell vegetable, meat, fish and other items. They are now in palpable fear of what next line of action to take, as they have been well informed to either buy one of the K-clamps at the interior part of the market or move out unfailingly next week. 
One of the retail meat sellers at the market who spoke with National Daily, confided in our correspondent that he and his colleagues are at a loss as to what step to take as government stance on the market remains rigid: “We have this week to fit into the new scheme or we are doomed come next week.  The local government has said we should no longer stay where you see us today; some years back we were asked to pay 40,000 naira for portions within the market where we sold; at that time we had to take loans via cooperatives to meet the commitment; not quite long, that structure was pulled down and again we were told this was in line with the mega city target for markets in Lagos. Imagine we are being driven to the interior where we are no longer visible to passersby. This would affect sales, and the worst of all is that for each slot in the k-clamps now we have to part with 300,000 naira or more. Where do we get that from?”
The chairman of the LCDA, Hon. Taofeek Adaranijo, while speaking with our correspondent, traced the history of the market which span close to thirty years, citing the need to meet up with the state government's poise for the attainment of mega city status as one of the determining factors for the transformation witnessed in the market and that the affected traders are not being sincere. 
“The over thirty years old market was in a deplorable state for which it has been closed down by the ministry of environment three times. At the inception of my administration we made frantic efforts to position it better and in line with the Lagos Mega city dream. The state government aided our course by approving the market space to aid transformation and all that you have on ground; there is conformity with state specification on market structure, that informs why some complaints have arisen, but on several occasions we have called the traders and stakeholders to parley at which both sides agreed on the way forward.
But some recalcitrant elements fail to stick to our advice. If not, it would have been easy for them to fit into the scheme as some who are original allotees are not to pay a dime, while the amounts charged for the new ones are to compensate. We even ask them to pay in installment, but you know illiterates hardly find it easy to cope with change.
Another petty trader affected by the market re-structure, in delirium of how to start all over again elsewhere noted that the K-clamps that are little allotment to showcase their wares is to be sold at an exorbitant rate of between 300,000 to 400,000 naira. Though in the innermost part of the market place, single stalls within the complex is to go for 1.5million, while the double stalls are to be sold at 3million naira going by the developers' intention after construction.
“We have nowhere to go; the Baba and Iya Oja that ordinarily are to assist us on our plight are largely their accomplice, as they have been bribed to ensure a smooth sail of their plan. I have been selling here for ten years now and I am afraid of what will happen next. Government should help us and secure our livelihood.

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