Officials of the Lagos State task force flanked by policemen attached to the Rapid Response Squad, yesterday, demolished shops and stalls at the Abattoir Market in Agege area of the state.
Many of the traders were seen gathering the few goods they could salvage as some just cried as they watch the demolition as they were too helpless to move.
A trader in the market, who gave her name as Mrs. Timilehin, while speaking to PM News asked amid tears: “where do these people want me to go?”
According to her, there had been rumours about a possible demolition of the market but that it had not been taken seriously until they saw officials of the state task force yesterday.
“The demolition task force came here and started destroying everywhere. I was about opening my shop when they came.
“These are the only things I could remove before they chased me out,” she said, pointing at two baskets of tomatoes and pepper.
Another trader, Abdul Sanni, said the market had served as a place of abode and business.
“I sell tomatoes, pepper and onions and sleep here at night. I don’t have a house. Now, I don’t have a market or a house,” he said.
Asked why the market was being demolished, he said he did not know. “We thought it was a joke. I don’t know why they are destroying the market,” he said.
Another affected trader, Mrs. Ifeoma Eze, said the government had often complained about the environmental state of the market.
“Officials of the government had always complained that the market is dirty and that we needed to keep the place very clean since 95 percent of things sold here is foodstuff.
“I don’t know if that is why the government demolished the market.
“Members of the Lagos State House of Assembly who visited us recently confirmed that the market was cleaner than it used to be,” she said as she moved her wares into a mini-truck.
None of the government officials or policemen at the site agreed to speak on the reason for the demolition. “Contact the constituted authority. We can’t tell you anything, but we are following a directive,” one of them said.
A government official at Alausa who was contacted on phone by PM News however confirmed that the demolition was carried out to make way for a modern market.
According to him, the traders were notified two months ago. “Last Friday, they were again reminded and this morning when the squad got to the market, we allowed them to move their things before the exercise commenced.
“They should have moved from the place, but they remained thinking the government would not go ahead with the demolition,” he said.