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Traders lament demolition of Berger Retail Market

The Berger retail market was on Wednesday (April 19, 2017) demolished completely. The demolition which some traders and shop owners tagged sudden was earlier rumoured to have been carried out by Lagos state government. But, the commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Tpl. Wasiu Anifowoshe, speaking on behalf of the government denied the allegation, stating that the government wouldn’t have carried out any demolition without first serving a notice to the traders. He denied that the government had a hand in the demolition.

Encomium.ng was at the scene of the demolition on Friday, April 21, 2017, to hear from the traders and the authority who had allegedly taken over the market.

Though, the main entrance of the retail market was fully secured by soldiers  who prevent people from entering the premises, we were able to talk to a man representing the management who spoke on account of anonymity. And he has this to say, “What we are doing here is strictly business, Encomium is a social magazine, so I don’t have anything to say over the issue.”

We discovered from a source who was also a shop owner but preferred to be anonymous, that the management had asked the traders whose shops were demolished to stay nearby that the management would attend to them today before 5pm. However, if they (traders) were not called upon by 5pm by the management, the meeting would be rescheduled for 12pm on Saturday, April 22, 2017.

Another woman who refused to mention her name said that they (traders) were not served any notice before the demolition date. She said, “I am not part of the market leadership, I only rented a shop here but I can boldly say that we were not issued any notice before the demolition. The only person who can say much about this is the Iyaloja”.

However, we further interviewed another shop owner, a Bureau de change official whose name is Mallam Haruna Musa and he said, “The demolition is not an order from the government but that of the new owner of the market because the market has been sold. They had notified us before now but the market women didn’t yield, that’s why the demolition caught them by surprise”. Another Bureau de change official whose name is Abdul Aziz Muhammed said, “They said they want to reconstruct the market and that’s why they demolished it”.

When asked whether traders were able to move their goods out of the demolished stores, Abdul Aziz said, “They allowed us to move our things out before they started the demolition. Whoever says his/her goods were destroyed, maybe he wasn’t around when the demolition took place”.

Encomium.ng also contacted another trader who sells video CDs and gave his name as simply Mr Ibrahim. He also denied ever receiving any notice before the demolition and that everyone was able to move some, if not all, of their goods out of the stores before the demolition exercise. When asked how he managed to get a space at the market gate when he was not notified before the demolition, he said, “I and the other traders had to quickly move our things out when they came and I just displayed my goods here temporarily pending the time the management would attend to us as promised.”

Another source who pleaded anonymity said that the market space had long ceased to be the government’s after the new owner had won the case in court.

  • Azeezat Kareem and Shukurat Alimi for encomium.ng 

 

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