The popular Ile-Epo Market in Agbado Oke-Odo Local Council Development Area of Lagos State was demolished on Friday.
Officials of the council, who declined to be identified, said the demolition was to pave the way for a “modern market befitting a mega city.”
Armed officials of the Lagos State Taskforce on Environment Offences (Enforcement) Unit were seen at the place supervising the demolition and also ensuring that there was no resistance from traders.
It was gathered that bulldozers arrived at the facility before 8:00am while the demolition reportedly started a few minutes later.
While the machines pulled down structures in the market, some men were also seen using sledge hammers to bring down some shops.
A large number of traders were seen frantically trying to move their goods away from the market, while others scampered for safety.
Some of the traders packed their goods on the median of the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway and adjoining roads, causing gridlock in the area.
It was gathered that the demolition was initiated by the Agbado Oke-Odo LCDA in conjunction with the developer, Total Value Integrated Limited.
A trader, who identified himself as Zakariya, said that he did not know where to go, adding that everyone thought that the government would change its mind on the plan.
Another trader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they were given short notice to leave the market, calling on the state government to intervene.
Mrs. Augustina Egbuonu, who claimed to be the Financial Secretary of the Ile-Epo Market Association, said she had been in the market for 20 years and had invested about N18m in the place.
She alleged that the developer and council had no plan for any trader.
But the Managing Director, Total Value Integrated Limited, Chris Onyekachi, said the traders were given 18 months to vacate the market for redevelopment, adding that “a few of them” refused to do so.
He said, “The traders have been given an alternative place in the market. We are not demolishing the whole market. We are developing it in three phases. The place was an eyesore not befitting a mega city like Lagos.”
He added that once the redevelopment of the market was complete, the traders would be given preference at discounted rate to own shops before others.
Onyekachi said the first phase of the redevelopment would be completed between three and four months.
No official of the council was willing to speak when our correspondent visited the secretariat.
The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Kehinde Bamigbetan said the matter is under investigation.
“We are investigating,” he told our correspondent.
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