Traders at the popular Berger Retail Market at Ojodu-Berger in Ojodu Local Council Area of Lagos State wept profusely yesterday as bulldozers demolished their shops.
Officials of the Lagos State Task Force on Environmental and Special Offences Unit arrived the market on Kosoko Street in the early hours of yesterday and demolished about 600 lockup shops and stalls.
They allegedly gave some of the traders they met in the market one hour to pack their wares.
The market, which located near the ever busy Berger bus stop, housed supermarkets, traders dealing in foodstuffs, textiles and building equipment as well as bureau de change operators.
Some of the traders were trying to salvage what remained of their goods. Some of them claimed they lost goods worth millions of naira to the demolition.
One of them, Mrs. Kate Okereke, said she lost her two shops to the demolition.
She said: “I was at home when another trader called me on the phone that something was happening in our market. I managed to reach there and I saved some of my commodities while others were lost with my two shops. Nobody gave us notice on this demolition.
If I knew there was notice of demolition, how could I have rented another shop in the market recently? “Lagos State government should please consider the plight of poor people.
Over 600 shops have gone just like that.” Another trader, who identified herself simply as Iya Bolu, said street urchins vandalised shops and looted goods.
She said: “They gave us only one hour to pack out our goods. Everybody was trying to pack her goods.
That gave opportunity for the area boys to vandalise and loot traders’ goods. Some of them even were snatching bags; that was how bad it was.”
Another trader, who craved anonymity, regretted why government would destroyed their means of livelihood, “because it wants to build Shoprite here”.
She added: “They said government wants to build Shoprite complex here.
Because of that, thousands of families will go hungry.”
However, some soldiers and members of the task force were keeping surveillance in the market, while the entrance was locked and cordoned off from the public.