After three days of being under lock and key, the Lagos State government reopened the Mile 12 International Market, a popular foodstuff market in Lagos.
In a meeting held on Friday between officials of the state’s Ministry of the Environment and leaders of the market; the state government listed unloading of trucks only at night as one of the conditions for reopening the market.
“We signed that we would no longer unload goods from incoming trucks during the day, only at night,” said a source who was at the meeting.
Early on Wednesday, task force officials of the Lagos State Ministry of the Environment arrived at the market to seal off the premises.
According to Tunji Bello, the commissioner for the Environment, the failure of the market leaders to ensure “sanity” in the market necessitated the government sealing off market.
Mr. Bello said that the environmental offences committed by the traders at the market include failure to control drivers of lorries who discharge foodstuff; poor sanitary condition of the market; and indiscriminate parking by customers on the highway.
By Friday, the state government showed it meant business by deploying armed police as well as Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) officers to ensure that the market remained shut.
The security officials stationed at the locked gates restricted human traffic in and out of the market.
Some officials of the market were seen sitting outside the market, where a rope had been used to cordon off the premises.
“We have cleaned the market and we are waiting for them to come and open it,” said Shehu Hassan, who heads the Yam section in the market.
“I don’t know why it was locked. We do environmental (sanitation) in the market every Thursday and then on the last Saturdays,” Mr. Shehu added.
About five police patrol vans and a Black Maria were stationed outside the market. Armed police officers patrolled the grounds on foot.
Traders in the market stood outside the market and watched, helplessly, at the armed officers.
“We are not happy because a lot of our goods is spoiling, also millions of Naira,” said Haruna Muhammed, Chairman of the Mile 12 International Market Management Committee.
“Even the goods in trailers at Ibafon, Mowe and Isheri are spoiling inside the trailers. They can’t come here because the market is locked,” Mr. Muhammed added.
At the nearby Mandela market, adjacent the closed market, Usman Ibrahim gargled his mouth with a shot of a local gin.
He said such had been his lot the past two days he could no longer gain access to his shop.
“I came to the market on Wednesday at about 8 a.m just to see all gates locked,” said Mr. Ibrahim, who sells provision inside the Mile 12 market.
“People were perambulating about, people that were supposed to go and open their shops and sell their market,” he added.
“The unfortunate thing is that, actually, the offence must have been committed, but there are a lot of ways the government can resolve these issues.
“This is a major foodstuff selling market in Lagos State. The government should be able to alleviate some measures to correct these things not to strand a lot of people,” said Mr. Ibrahim.
Inside the market, market women sat idly in front of their stalls; the KAI officers breathing down their neck.
However, at the sight of journalists, the women became animated, lamenting their ordeals and crying that their market be reopened.
Mariam Bolaji, who sells onions, said that she had cleaned as well as paid to cleaners to tidy her stall’s surroundings.
“The market wey dem close affect me well well because I get plenty pickin (children),” said Mrs. Bolaji.
Another trader, Sherifat Dawodu, said they have been doing their best to keep the market clean.
“There is nothing we can do,” said Mrs. Dawodu, who sells food seasonings.
“There is no how the market will not be dirty because what we are selling is dirty,” she added.
On a daily basis, about 80 trucks laden with foodstuffs, vegetables, and other agricultural produce from northern Nigeria arrive Mile 12 International Market, one of the biggest foodstuffs market in Lagos.
“We don’t know why the government locked the market. They have habit of locking up markets,” said Mr. Muhammed.
While the market remained closed, traffic along the Mile 12-Ketu axis of the Ikorodu road eased.
However, commercial buses stopping to pick passengers at the service lane, in front of the market, constituted a traffic nuisance.
“The go-slow still dey for Ikorodu road, our vehicles no dey, our market no dey outside,” said Mr. Muhammed.
“So it means that it is not our market that is causing the go-slow for Ikorodu road,” he added.
The market authority said that they have put a committee to “differentiate between the Danfo people and our vehicle so that the government will know the difference.”
“If we are the ones causing the go-slow, government will see. If it is Danfo or LASTMA, government will see it. That is the stage we are now,” said Mr. Muhammed.