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Markets in deplorable state despite millions collected as dues, levies

By Azeez Olorunlomeru 
14 August 2022   |   2:38 am
Daily, in the over 50 markets spread across the 57 local councils and local council development areas (LCDS), traders cough out hundreds of millions of naira as dues, levies, and payments

Major entrance into Alaba Rago market

Daily, in the over 50 markets spread across the 57 local councils and local council development areas (LCDS), traders cough out hundreds of millions of naira as dues, levies, and payments for sundry tickets to local authorities.

But surprisingly, this huge amount of money does not reflect on the state of infrastructure or the wellbeing of these markets, nor does it have any bearing on the welfare of the traders that generate these humongous resources.
Be that as it may, one thing runs as a common denominator in most of these markets. Except for a few of them that have been upgraded to ultra-modern facilities, the bulk of them is decrepit in nature and predominantly derelict in looks despite being money-spinners.
Ranging from their disorderly layouts to sparse infrastructure, poor or absence of any form of drainage, and conveniences, some of these markets constitute an eyesore. Even with a lot of monies collected as sanitation fees, they are still being festooned with heaps of refuse.
A visit to some of these markets reveals that it is a miracle why epidemics are not breaking out in the state one after the other because of their filthy ambience

One such market is the Alaba Rago Market in the Ojo Local Council of the state, which the state government recently threatened to shut down for an upgrade.

A fruit markel in Orile

Sections of it have been converted into lock-up stalls, residential structures, brothels, a hideout for criminals, as well as a haven for stolen items.

Peeved by these activities in the market, which make it one of the existing slums in the state, the government recently issued an eviction notice to traders preparatory to redeveloping the facility, a decision that it thinks would be in the best interest of the traders, shoppers, and the general public.

Besides the haphazard erection of additional structures, parts of the facility are perpetually marshy, while the entire market is in that state during the rainy season.

Even though they are still standing, most shops there are dilapidated and gradually sinking, while the very distressed ones are abandoned.

The drainage network in the market is poor, shallow, and indiscriminate. Consequently, the entire place is filthy as decomposing food remains, faeces, pet bottles, cellophane paper, etc., clog the drains and cause their contents to spill into the pathways.

The market, which was largely a grains market has since evolved to the point that animals are slaughtered in a part where the final consumers would reject meat that comes from there if they knew about the poor sanitary condition of the market.

Fruits and vegetables are very good for the maintenance of good health. But the sanitary condition of most of these markets, including the Mile 12 Fruits Market calls to question, the rationale behind the existence of environmental sanitation departments in local councils. Markets fall under the purview of local council areas.
From Doyin Fruit Market to Oluti, Iyana-Iba, Oke-Afa, Idi-Oro, Boundary, Ile-Epo to Ketu fruits markets to mention a few, one thing they all seem to have in common is that they are operated in dirty environments, including dumpsites.
Many that go to these markets to buy fruits always come out with their shoes and feet covered in mud and dirty wastewater they had to wade through while moving around the market, especially during the rainy season. 
The marshy land also oozes a foul smell that assaults the nose. This makes buying things in these markets an unpleasant experience.

In addition, rotten fruits are heaped at different points in the markets, which further complicates the issue. But that is the environment the fruits consumed by many Lagosians are warehoused for days or weeks before they are dispatched in smaller quantities to various points of sale across the city.   

The situation in markets in the Mainland is akin to what obtains in the Island, Ibeju Lekki, as well as Eti Osa.
In Ikotun Market, for instance, the road network is pathetic, just as the stall, shops, and appurtenances are falling apart due to lack of care and maintenance. 
The main road within the market has become impassable for some time now due to erosion. So, now when traders bring in their goods in trucks, they are forced to offload the content on the main road, which usually leads to traffic snarls, and sometimes traffic jams around that axis. The adjoining street opposite the market has also become impassable as a result of the gully created by the flooding of the narrow drainage in the market.
The situation is the same at the Alamutu Plantain Market in Idi-Oro, Mushin. Alamutu Market is a major plantain market where traders within Lagos buy plantain in large quantities to re-sell.
Ojuwoye Market, which is a strolling distance from Alamutu Market, in Mushin is not faring better as parts of it get marshy during downpours.
The sanitary condition of this market, also calls to question, the justification for tolls collected from traders, by the market authorities.
Mrs. Angela Nwachukwu, a trader in Ikotun Market lamented that traders in Lagos markets are used as cash cows by local councils, who work in cahoots with market leaderships to rip them without any commensurate improvement in the condition of the markets.
For Mojisola Ajelomi, market executives have continued to make life very difficult for traders, as the number of levies collected has continued to grow, but without commensurate development.
Speaking on the condition of markets in the state, the Commissioner for Information, Gbenga Omotoso, who informed that the state government is building toilets in some markets across the state, also explained that the state government has nothing to do with levies being collected from traders since markets are under the purview of local councils. 
“Markets come under local governments and every market has a market master (Baba Oloja, Iya Oloja). These people are the market leaders that supervise the activities of the market. The state government does interfere with local government finances in Lagos,” he explained.
On sanitation, he noted that the Wife of the State Governor, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, has been campaigning around Lagos markets on the need for improved sanitation, security, and safety.
“But there is this initiative by the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO), in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government, where they have been advocating for market sanitation and safety around Lagos councils for about two years.
The commissioner further implored traders to make personal hygiene and sanitation a priority so that the marketplace would be free from diseases.
The Secretary to the Igando-Ikotun LCDA, Comrade Alani Kazeem, who shared the view that health is wealth, stressed that a filthy market constitutes a health risk to both buyers and sellers. 
“It is believed that health is wealth, and if a market is clean and organised, everyone including traders and shoppers will benefit from the serene environment,” Kazeem stated, adding that monies collected by the council are statutory, and that traders that operate in the market know that they will pay for storage, which is the yearly payment to the local government.
He attributed flooding in the market to the erection of blocks of shops on the drainage channel, “and it is the traders that usually bear the brunt of the flooding.”

On “illegal levies” collected by the market masters (Baba Oloja’s) Kazeem noted there is no complaint of illegal levies collected from the traders by market masters. 
He further said that the council has written a series of letters to the appropriate government agency regarding the flood situation around the market.

He responded: “The appropriate government agency has visited the site twice, and promised to act on it because the drainage project is a state project.”

While the Oshodi-Isolo Local Council boss failed to pick up his calls, that of Ejigbo LCDA declined to comment on the state of markets in his domain.