Traders at the Uselu Market in Benin City blocked a section of the Benin-Ore Expressway over plans by the authorities of Egor Local Government Area to relocate them from the market
The traders carried out their protest under the aegis of Uselu Market Women Association and carried placards displaying their displeasure to the directive asking them to move to newly built lock-up stores inside the market.
The blocking of the road early in the day created traffic on the ever busy road and prevented many travelers from exiting Benin and many staffs of the University of Benin and the University Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) from getting to their places of work.
Some of the protesters said they were not against the planned relocation of the market, but cannot afford the over N1 million they were being asked to buy to secure shops inside the market.
They were particularly irked by the decision of the local government to demolish the makeshift shops they were using.
One of the market women, Mrs. Celena Okon, described the council’s action as “an act of wickedness”, in view of the current economic situation in the country.
She said, “What am I selling that you will force me to pay over a million naira for a single store? I believe they should consider the worth of our businesses individually.
“Where do you expect a woman who sells only crayfish or tomatoes to get such a ridiculous amount of money to pay, when in actual fact most are in dire need of additional funds to grow their businesses?”
Another market woman, Mrs. Imade Osifo, who described the situation as pathetic, said their decision to barricade the highway was for the world to know what they were going through.
She said, “They want to force us to go into the stores and we have told them that we cannot afford the stores; that is why they are destroying our businesses.”
“Even if the country’s economy was okay, how do you expect a woman who sells only salt and Maggi to generate such?” Osifo asked.
All efforts to get authorities of Egor local council to comment on the situation proved abortive, as the Council’s Head of Service was said to be unavailable.