The least traders of Sabo Market in the outskirts of Ikorodu, Lagos expected was the demolition that took place in their market last week.
Although, they confessed that they were given two weeks’ notice to evacuate their goods, they did not know it would be that soon.
Suddenly, they were greeted with a rude shock on arrival at the market early morning of Thursday to see the demolition of their shops and stalls.
According to majority of the traders that spoke to New Telegraph, they pointed accusing fingers at officials of the Lagos State Ministry of Environment for the demolition that took place late Wednesday night when all they had closed shops for the day.
The traders explained that they held meeting with top officials of Lagos State Government including the state Deputy Governor, Dr. Idiat Adebule and the Commissioner for Environment for resolution a day before the demolition exercise.
When New Telegraph visited the scene of the demolition, almost all the traders present at the scene were wailing and rolling on the ground at the entrance of the market.
They wailed at the misfortune that befell them, claiming that they were not giving a long time notice before the execution of the demolition.
They were saying amidst tears that, “where will I start from?”
“Oh my God, I am yet to refund my debt. How will I go about it now.”
Right there, two traders fainted, and were rushed to the hospital.
Upon inquiry from some of the traders, they told New Telegraph that one of those who fainted could not make it back to life.
However, goods worth millions of naira were lost to the demolition of the market according to the traders, especially those who were not around to salvage their goods.
The aggrieved traders took the demolition to be a betrayal on the part of government mostly with the way the exercise was carried out.
Mr. Afeez Ajala, who sells foodstuff at the market, said the demolition has caused him to lose his means of livelihood.
He said:“I have been in this market for a very long time now.
The profit I make from my stalls is what I use in feeding my family.
Now, all I have laboured for had been demolished by the government and I don’t know where to start from anymore.”
Mrs. Eunice Afolabi, who sells textile material in the market said: “When I heard the news, I froze and prayed earnestly that it should be another joker but alas, right before my eyes, were the ruins of my shop.
To top my agony, I just collected loans of about N2.5million from the bank in buying the good I put in my shop.
Now that Lagos State government has demolished it, how would I be able to pay my debts?” She asked.
It was a slightly different story for Miss Abimbola Bolarinwa, who sells soup ingredients in the market.
She was able to retrieve some of her goods.
Actually, the demolition caught her unawares but she was lucky that her shop was only pulled down halfway by the time she got there very early in the following day.
“Truly, there is no way development will take place without inflicting pains on some of the citizens but the government should have made available a substitute for the common ones like us here.
Already, life is not that pleasant. Now, life will be harder as our means of livelihood has been destroyed,” she lamented.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government has denied involvement in the demolition of the Sabo market.
The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, in a statement, stated that the State Government did not have a hand in the demolition of the market and would not demolish any market or property in the state without following due process.
The statement noted further that the state government’s preliminary investigation revealed that the market was demolished by some private developers, in connivance with some local government and Court staff just as it happened recently at Berger Retail Market.
The statement further explained that market administration is under the control of local governments and wondered why the State Government is being blamed for the demolition of the Sabo market.
To forestall similar occurrence, he said in the statement that the government would henceforth beam its searchlight on markets in the state and their management so that the interest of hard working traders would be protected.
“The current administration in the state is committed to the socio-economic empowerment of the people and has formulated policies and taken measures that would guarantee their economic well-being.
It would therefore not fold its arms and watch desperate individuals or groups deny hard working people in the state their means of livelihood,” Ayorinde said.