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After 15 years of deliberations on how to move to a more befitting permanent site, the Kenyatta building materials market which is located along the Kenyatta Street in Uwani- Enugu has finally been demolished by the Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA), on Thursday amidst mixed reactions from traders and indignes alike.
The permanent site for the market located at Ugwuaji, along Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway, has for three years been functional with most of the traders conducting transactions there but many of the traders remained adamant till Thursday.
The bulldozers used for the demolition arrived early in the morning before traders arrived at the market and were forced to evacuate their goods chaotically, which they scattered along all the streets in Uwani with most of them confused on what to do.
Speaking at the scene of the demolition, the Chairman of ECTDA, Denge Josef Onoh blamed the leaders of the market for their inability to convince the traders to vacate the street market and move over to the better planned permanent site of the market.
Onoh said that the exercise was a development control measure due to the congestion of the city. He also noted that the area where the traders converted into a market was originally a place given to National Youth Council of Nigeria, NYCN, for Youth capacity development and recreation, but which the council turned into a building material market in the heart of the city center.
“As way back as 2003, a site was obtained and designated as Enugu South International market and the successive state administrations failed to relocate the traders to that site in Ugwuaji and its not only hurting the economy of the state, but also affects the development and growth of the city.
“So, we now have an over populated arena which has contravened every single aspect of the Town planning development; and we have given them so much time to relocate to the site. On January 6 2000, we came for enforcement and we moved a portion of the traders but some said they didn’t have shops.
“We have the Youth Council which was given this allocation in the 1960s but has abused the purpose clause for which it was given to them. It was given to them for Youth development and recreational activities, but as you can see there is no recreation here. In 1989, they applied for adjustment, an amendment in the purpose clause which said commercial but the commercial activity was supposed to be for the benefit of the council such as a conference hall which they didn’t do but embarked of sale of every single part of the land demised unto them thereby abusing the purpose clause for which this land was demised,” Onoh said.
Chairman of Kenyetta Market Traders Association, Hon. Chinweuba Igwesi said there have been several relocation notices for the building materials dealers which some traders in the market failed to comply with, expressing sadness that relocation lingered.
“We advised them, some heed to it but others did not. Spaces for shops were given at discounted rates then but many of them did not take it seriously. A good number of sensitization was done as leaders of the market which made some buy theirs at Ugwuaji but others refused. Some of them said that the relocation will not work. Some moved to that place but after some time without government enforcement, they came back.
“These notices have been served for over three years and I thank the Governor of Enugu state but some traders deceived their colleagues into believing that there will be no enforcement. Those who have already relocated to Ugwuaji are giving testimonies of the economic viabilities of the place and cannot wish to come back here,” Igwesi said.