Uncertainty over market relocation
Nearly two months after the expiration of the deadline the Lagos State government set for the relocation of the bustling Mile 12 Market to a new site in Imota area of Ikorodu, The Guardian findings have revealed that the proposed plan may have hit a brick wall.
On April 12 this year, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode had informed traders in the popular but troubled market to prepare for relocation to the new site in the next six months. This was shortly after a communal clash in the area led to a two-week closure of the market, before its eventual reopening on March 17.
The governor, who inspected the new site proposed for the market, ordered the Ministry of Physical Planning to commence work to meet up with the six months deadline. He also promised that the market, which would sit on a 35-hectare expanse of land, would be provided with modern facilities for the convenience of traders.
But with the expiration of the deadline on October 12, over a month ago, the proposed plan is still shrouded in uncertainty. A market leader, who pleaded anonymity, confided in The Guardian that the relocation was not what anyone was worried about. He said since the market was reopened, everyone has been going about their businesses in a peaceful manner, adding that there was no reason to relocate the market again.
The Mile 12 market, located between Ketu and Mile 12, along Ikorodu Road, is a mecca for all fresh food items in Lagos, which are brought in mainly from the northern part of the country.
The market has over the years assumed the ill reputation of recording the highest number of clashes among the major ethnic groups in the country – the Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo. This year’s bloodletting, which took place in March, was marked by killings in the neighbouring communities before the clash was quelled by law enforcement agencies.
Incidentally, many residents of Imota are worried that not much seems to be taking place at the proposed site. According to them, the planned relocation might have been shelved since no work is currently going on there.
“We are worried because nobody is even sure of the situation. Even though they have prepared the site, there is no hope that anything would happen there anytime soon. Nothing at all is going on at the site right now,” Alhaja Khadijat Ahmad, a trader in Imota, said.
Some residents are attributing government’s pussyfooting to the subtle but strident intervention of the Kano State governor, Abdullah Ganduje, and his predecessor, Musa Kwankwanso, who now represents Kano Central Constituency at the Senate, for opposing the movement on behalf of a section of the ethno-regional stakeholders in the market.
It would be recalled that shortly after the closure, Ganduje and Kwankwanso came to Lagos and met separately with Governor Ambode. Though the outcome of their meetings was not made public, many believe the visits were not unconnected with the developments at Mile 12 .
However, the state government has given the assurance that the relocation plan is still on course. The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, said government has not discarded the plans to relocate the market, as was being rumoured in some quarters. He explained that there were processes that must be followed; assuring that the project would be done.
His words: “Government has not discarded the relocation of Mile 12 Market to Imota, Ikorodu. There are processes to be followed but the project is on course. It will happen.”
Successive governments in Lagos had attempted to move the market, the state’s largest food market, from its present location, but such plans have always failed. The immediate past administration of Mr. Babatunde Fashola, the current Minister of Power, Works and Housing, also made another attempt. Fashola, it was gathered, attempted to move the market from Mile 12 to Parafa, a small community in Ikorodu North Local Council Development Area, but the effort was unsuccessful.
Soon after, Lagos State officials moved to Parafa and warned hundreds of residents that their houses were built on government land, and that they would be demolished. But the residents started appealing to Fashola to shelve the plan and look for land elsewhere. Eventually, the government stopped talking about the plans and Mile 12 traders, who have always opposed the planned relocation, heaved a sigh of relief. How long will the respite last? Only time will tell.