Relocation Of Market In Akwanga: The Pains, The Gains

Many traders and shop owners in Akwanga town, headquarters of Akwanga Local Government Area started the year 2020 on a note some of them say is not too pleasant. They had to contend with a government decision to relocate them to the new market area along the Akwanga-Wamba bypass.

Clearance of Akwanga Old Market

Prior to the present time, the market used to be at the road leading from roundabout inside the town to Keffi.

It apparently was a small space hence the place was congested, which made many traders to open shops away from the market and along the roads leading from inside town to Lafia, Keffi, Jos and Wamba.

The centre of Akwanga town was a huge and rowdy market, thereby affecting free flow of traffic on what is supposed to be a major road intersection leading from the far north to Keffi – Abuja and the southern part of the country.

For residents of the town, Monday January 6, 2020 was one they were taken unawares seeing shops being demolished in the old market and clearing the roads leading to Lafia, Keffi, Jos and Wamba.

However, Eggonnews enquiry revealed that the traders were not completely taken unawares after all, although some claimed that they were not given enough notice, saying that the interval between the day the notice was given and the day the demolition exercise commenced was just three days.

Hon Samuel N. Meshi Supervising The Clearance Of Akwanga Old Market of hawkers

A government official at the local council said that, the authority of the area is concerned with the prevailing security breaches in the market, where hoodlums take advantage of the congested nature of the market to perpetrate crimes.

“Aside from that,” the official said, “the level of congestion being experienced along the old market to the round-about is something else.

“Another thing that informed the demolition is that, there is no parking space in the market, and so, those coming to patronize the traders are responsible for the huge traffic situation along the market area.

“And because of that, criminals use to come around to steal from the traders and the villagers who come to buy one thing or the other”, he said.

It was also observed that, all the illegal motor parks, makeshift shops and illegal structures erected at the roadside have been asked to relocate to their designated areas in Akwanga town.

At the time of this report, the old market in Akwanga had been levelled down, all the standing structures have given way.

The latest development is generating serious concern among some traders, thereby protesting as well as demanding the authority of the local government to compensate them or what they describe as their losses.

Eggonnews learnt that there were about 300 traders who came out and protested the decision of the local council

Even though the situation is biting hard on the residents who now have to travel farther distance to  the Akwanga Modern Market located along Akwanga – Lafia road to buy their goods, some others are enjoying the development, which is making their businesses to grow and boom.

Some of the protesters who spoke to newsmen during the protest on Monday, 10th January, 2020, said that their shops were demolished and their properties destroyed by the authority without informing them.

Their grievance: “We paid rents of between N200, 000 to N4 million for each shop in the demolished market for a period of 10 years and renewed our rents by paying for five years before the first payment expired based on directive from the local government.

“Our rent was supposed to relapse in 2025. Therefore, we wonder why the local government will have to demolish our shops now without any compensation,” the traders cried out.

Mrs Fidelia Ojioma, spokesperson of the traders said they paid rent in 2010 for 10 years and were directed by the authority to renew in 2017 which they did even before the expiration of the first payment.

Ojioma noted that the authority only gave them three days’ notice and demolished their shops without any compensation.

“It was during the celebration of the new year that we got information that our shops were being demolished and before we got to the market some of our goods were stolen.

“Apart from the rent for 15 years that we have paid, most of us completed the building of the demolished shops ourselves,” the spokesperson added.

She also said that none of the over 70 traders with big shops from the demolished market was allocated a shop in the new market.

“They have allocated all the shops in the new market to non-traders who are just middlemen to further exploit us despite the hardship we are already going through due to the demolition of our shops,” Ojoima said.

She therefore appealed to Governor Abdullahi Sule to intervene urgently towards addressing the issue in the best interest of all the traders.

Similarly, Talatu Abdul, another trader said they paid money for rents and that their rents had not yet expired and wondered why the government would treat them like that.

“The economic situation in the country is already not favourable, so the government should not add more hardship to us.

“We lost our customers and as you can see, we do not have shops at the new market. We wonder how we would meet the needs of our children,” she added.

When contacted on the matter, Samuel Meshi, the council Chairman, Samuel Mashi said that the traders were duly served with the notice on the intention of the government for them to relocate to the new market.

Meshi said that the traders voluntary complied with the government directive to relocate based on meeting with stakeholders.

According to the governor, his administration will not relent in attracting major traders from across the country as this will boost activities in markets across the state.

“I want to assure you of my administration’s readiness to partner any group or individual that will bring development to the state.

“The state government will continue to invest massively on markets development, considering the importance of market to societal development.

“Markets development will fight poverty, youth unemployment and restiveness as well as will boost the standard and the socio-economic well being of the people of the state,” he said.

The governor also assured traders of adequate security of markets in the state.

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