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Bureau de change operators, traders groan over demolition of Alade Market


 Closed shopping mall at Alade Market

Closed shopping mall at Alade Market

Developer denies invading market with thugs
Bureau de change operators at Alade Shopping Mall in Ikeja local council are calling on the Lagos State government to immediately reverse the vacation order issued to them as well as help unmask looters of their wares, following the demolition of the market without prior notice.

The demolition of the market, which took place on Saturday, was said to have been carried out by officials of the Ikeja local council.Speaking with The Guardian on behalf of the chairman, Alade Shopping Mall Bureau De Change Association, the secretary, Ahmed Usman Kamba, said the mall was bought in 1990 from the council, though it is owned by three entities: Ikeja local council, Sparklight and Pacific companies.

“We bought our site from the council. I was the one who signed and received the agreement. We knew that they wanted to renovate Alade Market, not Shopping Mall, where many occupiers are Bureau De Change operators. Sixty percent of the occupiers here are Arewas,’’ he said.

He said the task force officials, who stormed the mall on Saturday battle-ready with their carpenters, didn’t give the operators any chance to move their things.

“Immediately they came, they started barking orders for everybody to lock up and evacuate the market. They are marginalising us. They don’t care about us. We are northerners, the ones who voted for this government,” he said.

“The mall, which was commissioned by the last military administrator of Lagos, Col. Buba Marwa (Rtd.), is still relatively new. Why should Lagos demolish our source of livelihood?’’

Kamba said none of the officials of the council addressed them or told them anything concerning the situation until Monday morning when “we learnt that the local council chairman came to the mall with Black Maria and said whoever that comes to his stall would be picked up.”

Similarly, traders at the Alade Market in Ikeja, who were relocated to a new site, have complained of massive looting of their wares as a result of the demolition.

Some of the traders alleged that their clothes, drugs and furniture worth thousands of Naira, were missing on getting to their shops after the demolition. They called on the state government to investigate the situation and punish whoever must have carried out the act.The Market Women Leader, Alade Traders Association, declined commenting on the development, saying she was still devastated by the exercise and reports of massive looting of wares in the market.

However, the private developer of Alade Market has debunked claims that he invaded the market with armed thugs to harass traders.The Managing Director of Master Reality International Concepts Ltd, Lai Omotola, said in a statement on Sunday that the traders accusing him of forceful eviction were not genuine ship-owners in the market.

“There was never a case of invasion into the Alade Market or forceful ejection of traders and shop owners from the market,” said Mr. Omotola, the concessionaire of the soon-to-be-built Alade Shopping Mall.

“Rather, series of dialogue and peace meetings were held among three key parties: Ikeja local council, Association of Alade Market Men and Women and the concessionaire.”The local council in 2010 concessioned the market to Omotola’s company to invest N6.9 billion for a 30-year project on a Build, Own, and Transfer (BOT) basis.

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