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Enugu governor defends demolition of Kenyatta Market

By  Lawrence  Njoku, Enugu
06 August 2022   |   4:40 am
Enugu State government, yesterday, said it applied all legitimate processes to demolish the building materials market, along Kenyatta Street, in Uwani, Enugu.

People watch demolition of the relocated building materials section of Kenyatta market in Uwani, Enugu metropolis, by Enugu State Government…yesterday. PHOTO: NAN

Enugu State government, yesterday, said it applied all legitimate processes to demolish the building materials market, along Kenyatta Street, in Uwani, Enugu.

Bulldozers belonging to the state government, on Thursday, demolished the market, even before some traders could resume for the day’s activity. Several shops and wares were destroyed.

Some traders had attempted to relocate their goods to safer areas. Voices had risen over the action of the government. The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Frank Nweke Jr, who claimed he rushed to the market on receiving the news had described it as “inhuman”.

“When I saw the video, I decided to come and see by myself. I am shocked and devastated by the development. It is not in place of the government to destroy people’s livelihood. To destroy the shops with the traders’ goods is inhuman”, he said

But, the government, however, said the demolition followed a court order by the Enugu State Magistrate’s Court as well as several radio announcements by the Enugu State Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA), notifying the traders of its readiness to implement the order.

The Court Order was issued by B.C Ekwo on July 8, this year. It authorised the state government “to seal off and close all business activities of occupants of the electronics and electrical dealers of the old Kenyatta Market”. It stated that some of the structures had been illegally erected.

Government said the radio announcement called on the trader to vacate on or before August 4, 2022 to the new Kenyetta International Market, where they had allotted shops in the past three years.

The Chairman of ECTDA, Josef Onoh blamed the market leaders for their inability to convince the traders to vacate the street market and move over to the better planned permanent site of the market.

Onoh said the exercise was due to the congestion within the city. He also noted that the area where the traders converted into a market was originally a place given to the National Youth Council of Nigeria, (NYCN), for youth capacity development and recreation, but which the council turned to a building material market in the heart of the city centre.”

“As way back as 2003, a site was obtained and designated as Enugu South International Market and the successive state administrations failed to relocate the traders to that site in Ugwuaji. It is not only hurting the economy of the state, but also affects the development and growth of the city.

“So, we now have an overpopulated arena, which has contravened every single aspect of the town planning development; and we have given them so much time to relocate to the site. On January 6, 2000, we came for an enforcement and we moved a portion of the traders but some said they didn’t have shops”.

Chairman of Kenyetta Market Traders’ Association, Chinweuba Igwesi, said there have been several relocation notices for the building material dealers, which some traders failed to comply with, expressing sadness that relocation lingered.

“We advised them, some heed to it but others did not. Spaces for shops were given at discounted rates then but many of them did not take it seriously. A good number of sensitisation was done as leaders of the market, which made some buy theirs at Ugwuaji but others refused. Some of them said the relocation would not work. Some moved to that place but after some time, without government enforcement, they came back.

“These notices have been served for over three years. I thank the governor but some traders deceived their colleagues into believing that there would be no enforcement. Those who have already relocated to Ugwuaji are giving testimonies of the economic viabilities of the place and cannot wish to come back here,” Igwesi said.