Anguish was expressly written on the faces of traders yesterday at Daleko Market, Mushin, as they gazed at the ruins of the once popular rice market, lost in thought. They had been caught napping, as the market was demolished on Saturday, 48 hours before yesterday’s expiration of the quit notice served the traders.
With long faces, the traders bemoaned government’s action, claiming it breached their agreement with the market’s executive. They had earlier agreed to redevelop the market, but the traders kicked when the market executives said they would pay for the shops after the reconstruction.
A trader, Mrs. Rukayat Bello, said they are not against government’s plan to modernize the market, but there should be a human face to government policy. “They want to put new structures in place. It’s a good idea but throwing us out like orphans after we have spent resources for years to keep the market in shape is not the best from a government we voted into office.
“At least, an alternative should have been provided. Many of us had planned to demolish our shops after trading on Saturday or Sunday so we can recover some wood and zinc that would still be useful to us, but with what they have done now, not even a nail can be recovered from the demolition.”
Another trader, Musa Yahaya, said many of them are not happy with the market head’s decision, adding: “I sell rice and I have been in this market since 1983. The Iyaloja General is treating us unfairly and not looking after our interest at all. We are not saying she shouldn’t develop the market but why should we pay for our shops. Where should I start from?”
Comrade Alani Babatunde, who spoke with The Guardian on behalf of the developer, expressed dissatisfaction with the traders’ resistance to the redevelopment. He said the demolition would be for their benefit.
“Lagos is a mega city and all markets should be modernized. We are not taking their stores from anybody. Their stores will be returned to them after redevelopment. Even the area boys are engaged with some temporary jobs that will fetch them money. Daleko Market is one of the dirtiest markets in Lagos, I wonder why the Ministry of Environment failed to close down the market before now,” he said.
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