Shops demolition: We’ve lost our life-savings – Cross River Traders
Petty traders at the Ika Ika Oqua Market, popularly known as Marian Market in Calabar, Cross River State have decried the loss of their life-saving and the Government demolished what it called “shanties” as per what the traders call “shops”.
PARADISE NEWS gathered that over 200 traders who were affected by the Government’s decision wept uncontrollably after the path to their livelihood came to an end on Sunday and Monday, February 14 and 15, 2021.
One of the Traders, Etido Mfon, who spoke with our Reporter on Monday morning said: “Everything I have is inside that my small shop. I do hairdressing to feed my family. They used to collect several revenues from us every day and if you don’t pay, they will forcefully lock your shop – so, I don’t know why the same people are coming to demolish our place of business. We pay huge amounts of money monthly to stay and do businesses here; we even pay more than those in the market”.
Etido added that “They said we should go inside the market, meanwhile there are no vacant shops inside the market. Every place has been taken. I am a graduate and I have no job, this is where I manage to keep me and my family”.
Hon. Mfon Bassey, Commissioner for Environment who described the traders’ shops as “shanty shops and make-shift structures” said the general clean up exercise was to make the market clean, hygienically excellent and safe as compared to other markets.
“We are just doing a general clean up around the Ika Ika Oqua market. As you can see people have come to build shanties around the market and on the road and they’ve turned the place into a shopping centre. You can see that even behind me, part of the cold-tar is being used as refuse dump which is supposed not to be so. Before today when you come around the market there is no road.
“All the drains around the market are completely blocked. As you can also see the traders themselves outside the building lines also brought in their own projections from their shops to the main road thereby making this road impassable on a normal day.
“So we are just trying to sanitise the market, restore it to what it used to be and free the road. So from what we have done today, we are going to have an enforcement team to ensure that the traders do not come back” Mfon said during the demolition exercise.
The Commissioner who further lamented the attitude of the traders explained that the traders and owners of the makeshift containers were given notice 13months ago. “In fairness to them all, today makes it 1 year and a month that we started announcing the demolition.
“The truth is when you enter the market, most of the lock-up shops are empty, we want them to go back to their shops inside the market. We want to clean up to create enough space for vehicular movement and easy access.
“I can assure you that after today, we will have enforcement team, they can’t come back here anymore, there will be provision for waste bins too.
“Every member of our cluster including waste management, CUDA and our Ministry will ensure the market remains clean, safe and hygienic. Traders should leave the road and enter their shops inside the market. The market must be clean”, he said.
The demolition exercise is a collaboration of the Cross River State Ministry of Environment, Calabar Municipality Council, Cross River State Environmental Protection Agency, and Cross River State Waste Management Agency.