Traders at the popular Ikosi-Ketu Fruit Market bewailed their losses on Friday as two bulldozers were used to pull down shops in the market, crushing the traders’ wares in the process.

The demolition which started around 10am reportedly caught the traders, leaving them confused as they struggled to salvage some of their goods.

It was learnt that the facility, also known as Jakande Market, was demolished for the reconstruction of a N2.8bn modern market in the area.

The Ikosi-Isheri Local Council Development Area had reportedly awarded the reconstruction of the market to Total Value Integrated Service Limited.

The council officials escorted by policemen from the Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences Enforcement Unit (taskforce) stormed the market to enforce the demolition.

It was gathered that traders and angry youths initially resisted the demolition, claiming that they were not notified that the exercise would hold on Friday.

Some protesters were said to have hauled objects at the police who responded by shooting into the air and firing teargas canisters to disperse the crowd.

Several people reportedly sustained injuries in the ensuing commotion which led to gridlock on Ikorodu Road for hours.

Some traders, who arrived at the market earlier, were able to rescue some of their wares, but many others were prevented from gaining access into the market.

Some of the traders lamented that they were informed about the demolition sometime ago, adding that they were not told it would be pulled down on Friday.

“I was not around when the demolition started. By the time I got to the market my shop had been pulled down and all the fruits there were crushed. I could not pick a single thing out of the goods worth about N100,000. This is wickedness. We were not told something like this would happen today (Friday),” one of the traders, Mrs Fausat Abimbola, told our correspondent on the phone amid tears.

Another trader, Garuba Yakubu, said he lost watermelons, pineapples, cucumbers, among other fruits worth about N50,000 to the demolition.

He said, “While I was rushing to find a place where I could move my wares to, one of the bulldozers crushed my shop. That was my only source of livelihood and I have four children. I would have packed out if I knew they would come for the demolition today (Friday).”

One of the coordinators of the Oodua Peoples Congress in the area, Adebowale Adetona, said, “We were informed of the demolition some weeks ago, but they did not notify us the market would be demolished today (Friday).”

But the Managing Director, Total Value Integrated Service Limited, Chris Onyekachi, told journalists that the traders were given adequate notice to vacate the market for redevelopment, saying that several meetings were held with the traders union, traditional rulers and council members on the proposed reconstruction of the market.

He said, “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.

“We held meetings with the
Iya olojas, Baba olojas (market leaders) 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 owned shops would 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 months duration to rebuild the market and we will invest about N2.8bn in the reconstruction. The reconstruction of the first phase will begin in January.”

Copyright PUNCH.

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