BY TARKAA DAVID –
Traders at the Utako Market in Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) yesterday stage protested against the planned demolition of the market by the council.
The traders who marched to the office of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) minister, Malam Musa Bello, located at Area 11, Garki also demanded for his intervention.
Some of the protesters who spoke to LEADERSHIP lament negligence by the council even when the traders are up to date with levies.
Speaking to Journalists at the market premises, the secretary to the Board of Trustees, Utako Market, Mr.
Emeka Okah said that the traders are not against government taking over the market, but the properties
should be valued and the traders settled for their investment.
Okah revealed that the market was built in partnership with the traders and that the traders have not reneged on its part of the agreement.
He disclosed that the traders pay ground rent of over N20, 000 to N30, 000 without any commiserate provision of basic social amenities in the market.
He explained that the traders have once taken the government to court over illegal demolition in which the court awarded 4.9bn in favour of the traders, adding that the council has appealed the judgment.
Also speaking, a former chairman of traders at the Utako Market, Mr. Felix Nwaeze stated that the traders can renovate the market if need be and called on the council to bring it intention to the table.
Reacting to the incident, the project coordinator of Utako Ultramodern Market and the divisional head, works department (AMAC), Gaza Andrew said the demonstration has been put under control.
Andrew said that all the shop owners were aware that the market would be remodeled. “All the stakeholders have been engaged and we are still meeting. We have approval from development control for the remodeling and we have told them that everybody will be carried along,” he said.
He said it is a government policy that has been implemented with almost all markets within the area council, adding that the traders have no cause for alarm since nobody would be displaced by the remodeling.
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