Millions lost in demolition of market on rail transit corridor

Against all odds, the Canopy Market located at Wuse Zone 3 and said to be sitting on a rail transit corridor, has eventually been demolished by the Development Control Department of Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC), with traders saying they lost millions of Naira to the exercise.

The market was occupied by furniture, office equipment, electrical and electronics dealers and had several food kiosks.

Among structures that went down with the market was the African Town Garden which opened February this year along Bermenda Street and whose owner, Clement Aguiyi, said he got official approval to operate the N100 million investment for five years in the first instance.

Another trader, Ifeanyi Asiegbu, also confirmed that they were served a quit notice in 2012 with an explanation that the FCT Transport Secretariat wanted to make use of the transit corridor.

According to him, the government allocated the place to them temporarily with promise of an alternative anytime government wanted to reclaim the place.

On her part, the acting Coordinator of AMMC, Safiya Umar, admitted that the agency gave temporary approval to the traders, but said that the market was on transit corridor and that the FCT Transport Secretariat needed the place now.

“They (transport secretariat) asked us to help clear the place since it was we that gave the traders the place temporarily,” she said.

Umar disclosed that most of the structures were marked for demolition since 2011 and that the affected structures were served final demolition notices.

She said: “We didn’t hide from them that the allocation is temporary, and therefore they know the government will come after them very soon.

“We told them that it is a transit way for the rail and now we have the trains coming, we need to open up all the places we have allocated people on temporary basis

“The government was magnanimous enough to settle them temporarily for up to seven years in the place and we expected that by now, they should have organised themselves and found places to rent and move

“They took us to court but the court threw their matter out, so they don’t have any locus standi to create an informal market, whereas there are two formal markets there.”

“If we marked your property for removal within 12 or 24 hours, definitely on the dot, we will be there to remove it. Every inch of land in Abuja has a purpose because the city is an establishment of law,” she said.

While speaking on the demolition, the Director, Development Control Department, Murktar Galadima, said there was no going back until all illegal structures in the territory were removed.

He dismissed claims that adequate notice was not usually given prior to demolitions and said: “Whatever we do, we always follow due process; if you see us marking, we must mark again and again before actual removal.”