Amidst sporadic shootings, the Lagos State Government yesterday began the demolition of the multi-million Ketu-Ikosi Fruit Market – the largest fruit market in the country to make way for a proposed N3 billion market.
Hundreds of the market women amidst wailings and lamentations claimed that they were not informed that the exercise would take place as the demolition took place under heavy police supervision.
The traders were not allowed to pack their goods as the bulldozers commence the destruction, but the government and the constructors claimed that they had a day earlier informed the traders that the exercise is to begin yesterday.
THISDAY checks revealed that the Ikosi-Isheri Local Council Development Area (LCDA) had awarded the reconstruction of the market to Total Value Integrated Service Limited, which is committing about N2.8 billion to the reconstruct the market.
At around 10.00a.m. two bulldozers, escorted by policemen, stormed the market to ensure that there was no resistance during the demolition, but following resistance from touts in the market who started hauling bottles and stones, the police responded with gun shots and teargas cannisters.
Most of the traders claimed that they were unaware of the exercise as they were not allowed to pack their goods as the destruction went ahead.
Some of the traders lamented that they were informed sometimes ago about the demolition, but said they were not informed a day before the demolition that they were coming to pull down the shops.
The Coordinator of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) in the market, Adebowale Adetona said they were informed some weeks ago that they were coming to demolish the market, but that they did not notify them of the latest development.
Also speaking, Mr. Chris Onyekachi, Managing Director, Total Value Integrated Service Limited, the company responsible for the market development told newsmen that the traders were given adequate notice to vacate the market for redevelopment, adding that series of meetings were held with the traders union, traditional rulers and council members on the proposed reconstruction of the market.
“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 and we agreed on the mode of demolition. Some people kicked against it and because we want peace to reign, we met with the two Obas – the Alaketu of etu and the Onikosi of kosi and they 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 own shop earlier will 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 month duration to rebuild the market and we will invest about N2.8 billion in the reconstruction. The reconstruction of the first phase will begin in January,” he said.