…By Dorcas Funmi for TDPel Media.
Traders in the Alaba International market in Ojo Local Government Area of Lagos State recently shared their ordeal following an unexpected demolition exercise that took place in the market.
The leadership of certain market sections claimed that they were not informed about the exercise, contradicting the statement by the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA).
Uninformed Traders Cry Foul
While the LASBCA justified the demolition by stating that the structures were old and posed a risk of building collapse, traders in the market vehemently protested, arguing that the demolition was unlawful due to the lack of prior notice.
The President-General of Alaba Amalgamated Council of Sectional Heads, Hon. Geoffrey Udochukwu Mbonu, expressed his discontent with the government’s actions, emphasizing that the traders were taken by surprise.
Absence of Communication and Notice
Mbonu further clarified that the LASBCA did not provide any prior notice to the market leadership.
He revealed that officials from the agency arrived at the market on Friday, June 16th, accompanied by armed policemen, without consulting the market’s leadership.
Mbonu emphasized that while the government has the right to carry out its work, some form of communication and notice was expected.
Reasons for Demolition and Lack of Clarity
The President-General explained that the demolished buildings were accused of obstructing drainages and causing flooding by being erected on waterways, especially during the rainy seasons.
However, he questioned the demolition of new buildings that were not close to the canal.
Mbonu urged the government to review the exercise conducted by the LASBCA, pointing out that the destruction also affected their secretariat and other new structures.
Suspicions of Land Acquisition
Mbonu expressed his belief that the demolition may be linked to a developer’s intention to acquire land in the area. According to him, there have been discussions between the developer, the Local Government, and the State regarding the acquisition.
He claimed that the demolitions were aimed at creating space for the developer to construct the desired type of building.
Mbonu stressed the significance of the Alaba market as one of the largest in West Africa and highlighted the substantial revenue it generates.
Traders Left Vulnerable
Mbonu lamented the lack of security provided during the demolition, leaving the market exposed and vulnerable.
He emphasized the need for the government to consider the traders’ interests, involve them in decision-making processes, and provide sufficient time for them to remove their goods before conducting any demolition exercise.
Confirmation and Plea for Peace
The President of Alaba International Market Association, Chief Camillus Amajuoyi, confirmed the demolition and revealed that the LASBCA issued a notice on Friday, June 16th.
He contacted the Ojo Local Government Chairman to inform him of the situation.
While the chairman acknowledged his awareness of the demolition, he claimed that only structures marked for years would be destroyed.
Calls for Calm and Lack of Government Response
Amajuoyi expressed shock at the extent of the demolition and highlighted the rumors of developers purchasing a portion of Alaba nine years ago.
He called for peace and calm among the traders and urged them to address the situation through proper channels.
However, he expressed disappointment that the Local Government Chairman had not visited the site to assess the situation firsthand, despite being informed of the excessive actions taken by the authorities.