Task Force demolishes 480 shops in Abuja
It was a day of anguish and tears as over 480 shops in the popular UTC Shopping Complex were demolished in Abuja, yesterday.
The Joint Task Force of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), in the early hours caught shop owners unawares, as it barricaded the area and used tear gas to ward off any resistance.
The FCTA said that the 30-year-old shopping complex had to be demolished to give way for the needed rebounding of the place.
The administration said that the structure was overdue for restructuring to fit into a shopping complex model required to grow SMEs to address global business needs and challenges.
Earlier this year, the FCTA had served notice of demolition to the shop owners, but they contested the move and instantly rejected the offer of an alternative shopping complex by instituting court action against the administration.
One of the affected shop owners said: “They asked us to relocate to the other side, but they have not done anything in that place that they are trying to take us to. There is light and no proper arrangements for people to move in there. Even at that, some people have already paid about N250,000 for each shop. About 300 shop owners have paid already, but nothing has been done properly.”
Some of the affected persons lamented huge losses as a result of the demolition, saying that the FCTA Task Force declined all entreaties to allow them to salvage some of their wares.
The Deputy Director, of Monitoring and Inspection, Department of Development, Hassan Ogbole, while reacting to the development, said the demolition of the complex was to restructure it into a befitting shopping centre required to grow SMEs to address global business needs and challenges.
Ogbole noted that the structures had become defective and there was a need to upgrade it to the standard that would meet global business standards.
“The place is in a state of disrepair, and no longer good for occupation and business activities. The place has to give way for a new development.
“The company handling the development has informed Development Control and we are here to enforce compliance. We have given them enough notices to remove their goods to enable us to start the work,” he said.
The Secretary, Command and Control, FCTA Department of Security, Peter Olumiji, said the demolition of the complex was necessary to curb criminal activities in the area.