Oshodi market going, going… gone

Once again Oshodi is undergoing another massive makeover.

Traders in their hundreds at the Owonifari Market in Oshodi were welcomed on Wednesday by the sounds of bulldozers destroying their shops and goods.

The demolition, which was carried out at about 1am, by officials of the Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit, had come after a prior ultimatum issued to traders to leave the area.

However, some traders, most of whom were just returning from the holiday break and had been surprised by the incident, claimed that they were given only four days.

One of the traders, Ike Uzor, revealed to Punch that he had just returned from his hometown in the South-East after the Yuletide and was shocked to see that his shop and goods were gone. Uzor claimed that he lost 15 flat screens, among other goods.

He said: “The officials started the process on Saturday at about 9pm. They arrested the market chairman and shot teargas canisters at the traders. That was four days ago. So, why are they claiming they gave us two weeks to pack?

“I just returned from the South-East after the Christmas and New Year celebration. We have goods in these shops worth millions of naira. The officials came in the night and destroyed our goods with bulldozers.

“They said they wanted to use the place for a Bus Rapid Transit park. But we have hundreds of shops in this place, and they did not allow us to move our goods. We did not pick anything from the rubble.”

Another trader, Bayo Akande, was quoted to have said: “My father had two shops. I was born and I grew up in this area. There is no harm if the government wants to use the land because it is a public property. But why should they demolish our goods with the shops? This is wickedness. We did not vote for this change.

“I have also been doing business here for about 15 years. I came this morning to meet the place demolished. Where do I start from?”

Meanwhile, the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Steve Ayorinde, said the need to transform and beautify the Oshodi area informed the demolition.

“The Owonifari area will be transformed into an ultra modern bus terminal with new bus shelters that are befitting of a structured park in a mega city,” he said.

It was gathered that the Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, was at the market on Wednesday.

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