Traders, artisans, others cry as FHA demolishes market, buildings in FESTAC

Weeping, sorrow, disappointment  and regrets filled the atmosphere   FESTAC Town, Lagos, on Sunday as  a Lagos State task force demolished the popular Agboju Market,  shanties and other illegal buildings on the town’s former Buffa Zone.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that traders, mechanics and other artisans  operating at the area counted their losses as bulldozers turned their goods, stores and workshops into rubbles.

The place is located on 2nd Avenue FESTAC Town.

NAN gathered that the task force working the  Federal Housing Authority (FHA).

Both the leader of the task force and a  representative of FHA at the scene refused to comment on the development.

They told NAN that they did not have the authority to speak on the matter.

More than 100 shops, shanties and other buildings were pulled down by the task force.

While some traders and artisans hurriedly moved out some of their wares and tools, many of could not.

Some churches operating at the place were seen moving away their property, removing the roofs  and gates of demolition.

As at the time of this report, however, no church building pulled down.

NAN gathered that FHA gave the affected occupants a notice of the demotion a week ago.

Many traders and artisans were seen moody and lamenting. They told NAN that they were fed up with challenges.

Mr  Isaac Kadiri, Vice President, Automobile Technicians Association (NATA), Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area, described the demotion as a disaster.

He told NAN: ” We believe that if government wants to chase us away, it should give us an alternative  but it just gave us seven days’ notice to leave.

“We had an alternative place at 6th Avenue that given to us by FESTAC Town Residents Association and Federal Housing Authority but the place is not ready.

“We put the access roads here, but look at what we are losing. We have lost more than 100 million here. What we have lost here we can’t gain back.

“We have mechanics, battery chargers, vulcanisers, panel beaters and painters as our members.

“We were served the seven days’ ultimatum through Lagos State Task Force, which claimed FHA invited it to carry out the demolition.”

Kadri on  government to urgently provide an alternative place the artisans and others affected by the demolition.

“We want government to give us a place where we can earn our . If it the site is ready tomorrow,  we will move.

“We were paying rent to Amuwo Odofin Local Government. We are paying tax to Lagos State Government.  We pay rent of 10,000 , per annum. We are more than 5,000 artisans.”

An affected panel beater and painter,  Mr Hamad Tijani, said: “When we got here, it was just bushes and swamp; nothing was here but we sand-filled  the place and many people are benefitting from here now.

“Government should help us as citizens of this country, there is no place us to go.”

A mechani, Mr Fatai Onidolu,  alleged that the place allocated to the artisans by FHA at 6th Avenue had been sold.

“So where do they want us to go now? They gave us seven days’ notice which is too short to find an alternative.  are they treating us this way?”

A cleric Festac Town, who pleaded anonymity, appealed to FHA to show mercy to the affected occupants.

He said that many Nigerians were undergoing hardship occasioned by , insecurity and economic downturn, and didn’t need additional troubles.

He said that although government had a right to its property, the timing of the demolition was  wrong and the notice short. (NAN)