The popular Ikosi-Ketu Fruit Market in Ketu area of Lagos, was on Friday demolished to pave way for a modern market in the area, which is due for completion in the next 18months.
The Ikosi-Isheri Local Council Development Area (LCDA), had awarded the reconstruction of the dilapidated market to a firm of contractors, Total Value Integrated Service Limited.
As the demolition exercise was about to commence early in the morning by 10, with two bulldozers escorted by policemen mostly from Task Force, stormed the market to ensure that there was no breakdown of law and order during the exercise, there was initial resistance from touts in the market who hauled bottles at the police, leading to sporadic shooting of teargas in the air by the police to scare away the touts and traders unwilling to leave the market.
TribuneOnline gathered that some traders, who were in the market earlier, were able to rescue some of their wares, while others were not so lucky as they were prevented from gaining access into the venue to salvage their wares.
Some of the affected traders, including Mrs Abiola Ajayi, Modinat Keshinro, a wine seller; Yinka Odufuwa, among others, were seen wailing and crying, as they lamented their plight.
They claimed that the authorities did not inform them that the exercise was to hold on Friday, even though they were informed sometimes ago about the demolition.
This was just as they passionately begged the policemen on standby that they are allowed to go into their various shops and stalls to salvage their wares.
Chairman and Coordinator of Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), in the area, Adebowale Adetona aka Atiku, said they were informed some weeks ago that they were coming to demolish the market, but claimed that the authorities did not notify them of the latest development.
Adetona, however, said the market was due for an upgrade, declaring that the situation was quite worse any time it rained.
But Chris Onyekachi, Managing Director, Total Value Integrated Service Limited, when contacted told newsmen that the traders were given adequate notice to vacate the market for redevelopment.
According to him, a series of meetings were held with the traders union, traditional rulers and council members on the proposed reconstruction of the market, and a consensus reached to redevelop the market.
“We gave them notice three weeks ago which has expired and we gave them another seven days notice to move their wares to other areas of the market. They are aware,” he said.
“We held meetings with the Iya Olojas, Baba Olojas and we agreed on the mode of demolition. Some people kicked against it and because we want peace to reign, we met with the obas and we saw reasons why the market should be reconstructed,” he added.
Onyekachi, while noting that some hoodlums were opposed to the redevelopment, maintained that nobody was interested in chasing anybody away from the market, assuring that those who owned shop earlier would be considered first in re-allocation at a discounted rate.
“Some miscreants don’t want the redevelopment. We are not interested in chasing people away from the market. Those who owns shop earlier will be considered first in re-allocation at a discounted rate.
“We want to upgrade the market to meet the Lagos megacity standard and we are doing it in phases. We will not shut the whole market.
“The development will be in four phases and the market occupies 25 acres. We have 18-month duration to rebuild the market and we will invest about N2.8 billion in the reconstruction. The reconstruction of the first phase will begin in January,” he said.