Traders at the Utako ultra-modern market marched on Monday, against the alleged planned demolition of the already constructed Utako Ultra-Modern Market by the Abuja Municipal Area Council, AMAC.
In December, the traders said that the Abuja Municipal Area Council, AMAC, had moved in equipment to demolish the market to pave way for a private firm, M.N. ATAJ Construction Limited, to build a new market.
The female traders, dressed in black, marched round the market severally chanting songs of intervention from God, as they said they had sought intervention from the government and its institutions to no avail.
According to the Women Leader of the market traders, Morounke Afolabi, “We are actually not protesting, we are only praying round the market today. When we are going to protest we will say it to the whole world. We have done a series of things before and it looks as if it is not gaining weight.
“There is no government office that we have not gone to, to look for help, but from all indications we didn’t get what we requested so we said let all women set today apart to pray round the market and this is what we are doing.”
When asked what they require of the government in order to solve the problem at hand, Mrs. Afolabi said the government should “leave them alone.”
“The government cannot deny that they sold this place to us at a cost and all the conditions that were given us, we have fulfilled.
“On the allocation letter they gave us, they said we should erect permanent structures and they supervised the building from the foundation level and even when we got to the roofing level, because of fire outbreak, they said all shops in Utako market must be decking.
“We did that and finally covered it with asbestos, as they requested. Having fulfilled all their conditions, they gave us allocation of 99 years from 1997. We are about 20 years on the land now and they’ve said we should move. We have not even used up half of the number of years we were given
“We were given license to erect permanent structures, if the permanent structures are no longer tenable in the governments’ presence, we said they should tell us what they want us to turn it to. We were prepared to do it under their supervision and they now said no.
“Also, from all indications, they have started selling forms for the market they are building.
“To clear our doubts, our executives in the market went to go and buy a form to own a shop and it was sold for N10,000. They are pulling down the existing structure to build another one without consideration for us, the owners,” she said.
The women leader explained that the Abuja Municipal Area Council, AMAC, had said they would remodel the market and give the traders shops in the remodelled market.
She said that their (authorities) words lacked integrity as the same promises were made to other traders, whose shops were demolished to build a story building.
Attempts were made by the reporter to reach the special adviser on media to the FCT Minister, Sani Abubakar, for a reaction but he did not pick his calls or respond to text messages.
The chief press secretary of the Federal Capital Development Agency, FCDA, Cosmas Uzodinma, was also contacted. He asked to be called back but did not pick subsequent calls by the reporter.
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