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Mile 12 Market: Ogere diminishes, as Lagos consolidates win

By Gbenga Akinfenwa and Eniola Daniel
24 April 2016   |   4:14 am
The Ogun State government appears to be at the losing end in the battle to accommodate traders displaced from Mile 12 market.
A section of the market at Ogere PHOTO: GBENGA AKINFENWA

A section of the market at Ogere PHOTO: GBENGA AKINFENWA

Traders Protest Relocation To Imota

The Ogun State government appears to be at the losing end in the battle to accommodate traders displaced from Mile 12 market.

Following the bloody clash that paralysed the market and prompted the Lagos State government to shut it down, some of the traders had to migrate to Ogun. Barely a week after the closure, however, the Lagos government ordered the reopening of the market, throwing a spanner in the wheel of enthusiastic plans by Ogun to accommodate the displaced, and causing observers to wonder at Lagos State’s motive.

There are indications that the tactical fight between the neighbouring states for the heart of the traders is prompted by drive for revenue, rather any show of concern for the traders’ welfare.

Two months after Ogun resettled the traders at Ogere-Remo on the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway, the over 50-acre land provided by the state is begging to be used, even after the governor had promised to put up needful infrastructure.

A visit to the market, last week, failed to show any signs of additional development besides what The Guardian noted during its visit in March. There were even fewer traders and fewer buyers. Investigation revealed majority of the traders have returned to Mile 12, especially as the sales they made in an entire week at Ogere was a distant cry from their daily take in at Mile 12. Also, with infrastructure like stalls, shops, security posts promised by the Ogun government not forthcoming, the traders simply decided to return to base.

The two boreholes sunk by the government are yet to come alive. Though a police patrol vehicle was seen in the area, the traders are still vulnerable to attacks by men of the underworld. They still have makeshift stalls that do little to save them from the elements. Another big challenge is difficulty in getting commercial vehicles to transport goods.

One of the traders, Sulaimon Kabiru, said his co-traders’ decision to return is not unconnected to unfulfilled promise by the Ogun government to make the new market conducive to business. He said the state’s Commissioner for Agriculture, Ronke Sokefun, had promised that within few weeks facilities would be set up, but that two months after, little has changed.

He said the traders are confused over government’s silence, adding that the advent of rains has compounded their pains, as they have nowhere to run for shelter.

He said: “They (Ogun government) might have been discouraged by reopening of the Mile 12 market. That might be why all the promises made to us have not been fulfilled. The problem of fuel scarcity has also affected our customers who come from Lagos and Ijebu area. More traders may still leave. Though for now, we are hoping for a change.”

Another trader, Abdullahi Yahaya, however, said he has no intention of returning to Mile 12 because of unfair treatment by the Lagos government. He said if Ogun government provides necessary facilities, Ogere could overshadow Mile 12.

The Public Relations Officer of Ogun State’s Ministry of Agriculture, Rotimi Oduniyi, said the government is optimistic the market in Ogere will transform to a huge business hub without necessarily relying on the displaced traders.

Meanwhile, traders at the Mile 12 market are unhappy with plan by the Lagos State government to move them to Imota in the Ikorodu area.

One of them, Anas Mohammed, told The Guardian: “Definitely, the move will affect us. Besides being a new location, there will be difficulty in connecting with our customers. We’ve been doing business in Mile 12 for decades. Relocating to a new place, like Ikorodu, will be hard. Look at the hours spent in traffic. Most of our goods, like tomatoes, onion and others, are perishable. We could lose a lot of money.”

Another trader who referred to herself as Iya Ibadan, said: “We only hope he (Governor Ambode) will change his mind. But if he thinks that is the best thing to do, some of us might decide to stay back at home and sell our goods.”

On his part, Kelechi Igwe said: “As for me, it won’t work. But if that happens, it will affect us because we will not only relocate our goods but also our families to a new area.”