All we are saying….we cannot pay N1.2m
Market women in Edo block Benin-Lagos Road over lock-up shops controversy
Activities in Uselu area of the Benin -Ore- Lagos Highway were yesterday paralysed as the Uselu Market women protested against alleged attempts by the Egor Local Council to force them to relocate to the newly constructed lock-up shops, at the rate of N100,000 per month.
Armed with various placards and market tools, the women blocked the two sides of the highway preventing motorists coming into Benin or those going out from doing so.
They said at N1.2million per store per annum, it was too expensive for them, especially with the type of business many of them do.
They said they became infuriated and decided to protest when they arrived the market yesterday and discovered that the leadership of Egor Local Council was already destroying the make-shift stores they were using to sell in the market.
The women resisted attempts by the police to take them off the road.
Mrs. Celena Okon, one of the women, described the council action as an act of wickedness, especially in view of the present economic situation in the country.
“What am I selling that you will force me to pay over a N 1 million for a single store? Where do you expect a woman who sells only crayfish or tomatoes to get such a ridiculous amount of money to pay? “ she asked.
Another woman, Mrs. Imade Osifo, who described the situation as pathetic, said their decision to barricade the highway was for the world to know what they were going through.
“According to her, “They want to force us to go into the stores we had told them we could not afford. That is why they are destroying our businesses.”
Also, Mrs Abieyuwa Osifo, said the council had been insensitive to their plight, especially against the background of different levies they have been paying before they allowed to sell in the market.
“When the plan to construct these lock-up stores came up, the council had told us that the prices would not be exorbitant, but what do we have now, a price that most of us cannot afford, N1.2 miilion.
“How do you expect a woman who sells only salt and Maggi to cough out such an amount?” she asked.
Attempts to get authorities of the Egor Local Council to react proved abortive as the Head of Service was said to be unavailable.
When contacted on telephone, the Council’s spokesman, Mrs. Prisca Ebvadiaro, refused to speak on it, claiming she was not in the position to do so.
“I cannot speak on this. There is a committee that has been set up and as such, I cannot speak on it,” she said.