How many years have you been in this market?
I have been here for 11 years.
How would you describe the business since then?
It has been good. It’s a lucrative business.
Are you comfortable trading in this environment?
It’s comfortable. If it’s not, I won’t come here every day.
A couple of days back, news was all over the place that this place has been demolished…
It wasn’t a lie absolutely, they made an attempt to demolish the market on Tuesday. If you look round the market, you will notice that they had removed almost all the roofs of the shops. They brought a bulldozer to demolish the whole place. The only thing is that I can’t tell you specifically the person behind the whole thing. I can say it’s a partial demolition. And on Thursday, it rained heavily and all our goods were destroyed. Water penetrated most of the brain boxes and that’s a big trouble to our business. A lot of things got spoilt in the process. Even, some of our colleagues lost their money kept in their drawers. Our business is the type that you can buy instantly. If you refuse to pay the specified amount, another person will pay, and for that reason we love having money at our disposal so that we can get the goods immediately.
That means you people might have lost a lot to the incident?
Yes, of course. I am saying this confidently. Those that came were fully armed. We’re not even allowed access to our stalls. Among those that came, we saw mobile police, OPMESA and some touts, fully armed with dangerous weapons. It was a very terrible and barbaric incident.
How much did you lose personally that day?
I can’t quantify the loss. As you see, all my goods are outside now, not protected. They have removed the roof of my shop.
What do you want the Lagos government to do on the issue?
I believe those in government are also human beings like us, they should look into the matter and know what they should do. I believe they have wisdom and in their wisdom they know what to do.
But we learnt the government wants to reconstruct this place and elevate it to a befitting status, and that informed the plan to demolish the existing structure, what’s your reaction to that?
Nobody is arguing that but we should be given fair treatment. We also want to know if the people who own all these shops will be retained after the redevelopment. And the time they want to give us to relocate and if possible they let us know the alternative they have provided for us. They should show us where to keep our goods.
The tale before the alleged demolition was that the real reason this place was marked for demolition was that you people didn’t vote for Ambode during the last election and that you also booed him when he came here to solicit your support. What’s your reaction to that?
I don’t know about that, but you know in every market there are touts. We that own shops in this market voted for Ambode because Lagos belongs to all of us. All of us in this market are Ambode’s supporters. And I know he’s a man of wisdom. I want him to use that wisdom and intervene in this matter.
Are you a member of the executive of the Spare Parts Sellers Association of this market?
For now, no. I only contested in the last election for the post of provost and lost.
Where are you from?
I am from Imo State.
– TADE ASIFAT