There was confusion at Area 2 Shopping Centre yesterday, as traders, particularly those selling foodstuff were displaced from their make shift shops, around the shopping centre.
Some of the traders alleged that they were displaced by the authorities of Abuja Environmental protection Board (AEPB), for operating illegal shops in the market.
LEADERSHIP observed that some of the traders had moved their goods to streets near the market where they sold from, while others hid their goods but stayed at their shops to receive their customers.
Others were seen sitting in clusters around the shopping centre, discussing the incident.
One of the traders, who spoke with our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, for fear of victimisation said AEPB had asked them to leave the market because of the activities of some traders which left the environment very dirty.
He further alleged that shop owners at the centre had complained to the authorities that they were experiencing low patronage because of the illegal traders around the market.
“The problem started with those people selling water at the other side of the shopping centre. That place was cleared formerly and was supposed to be used as a car park because of the limited parking space around here but they came and built shops there and there is no more parking space here as you can see.
“The shop owners also reported to the taskforce that they were not making sales but you can’t blame them because they paid huge amounts of money for their shops and they have to make profit. The people selling outside usually sell cheaper because they don’t pay for shops and it is affecting their business,” he added.
But in a reaction, the Head of Department, Environmental Monitoring and Enforcement, (AEPB), Mr. Uche Agbanusi told LEADERSHIP that contrary to the claim of the traders, the board had not gone to dislodge the traders.
He said the traders were probably acting on a tip-off, as the board planned to sanitise the area.
Agbanusi said: “We are carrying out our job and our job is to make sure that the road ways, highways and streets are not turned into markets. And those who display their goods beyond the shopping centre precincts were asked to move it back. So i don’t know the displacement they are talking about.
“And when people see us they just start running. They just heard information and they started running but if you know that you are doing the correct thing, why should you move?”
He stressed that even though he had gone there to assess the place and had seen that they were doing the wrong thing and the place had been messed up, the board was yet to carry out any exercise there.
“I owe nobody any apology because I am carrying out my duties to make sure that the right things are done. And when we want to enforce, we normally inform people on time so maybe they heard the news of what happened in Area 1 Shopping Centre and when we asked them to move their things, they started parking even without seeing us yet,” he added.