We Are Suffering: Sabo Market Traders Protest After Inferno, Demolition

Traders at the demolished Sabo-Akarigbo market in the Sagamu area of Ogun State, Southwest Nigeria, on Thursday staged a protest to demand reconstruction of the market.

They also accused the state government of abandoning them after the fire incident and the eventual demolition of the market.

The market was razed by fire on Jan. 28, 2020, destroying over 100 shops and goods worth millions of naira.

Dapo Abiodun, Governor of Ogun State had in a visit to the market after the fire incident, promised to reconstruct the market. However, one year after, the promise is yet to be fulfilled.

In December 2020, in what appeared like preparation for reconstruction, the market was demolished by some agents of the state government.

During the Thursday protest, over 200 traders, stormed the streets of Sagamu to call for a quick reconstruction of the market.

The protesting traders displayed banners with different inscriptions such as: ‘We are selling in the sun and dust. Our health is suffering; our businesses are dying,’ ‘Prince Dapo Abiodun, please help us. Please come to our aid’.

The protesters who marched to the palace of the traditional ruler of Remo land, Akarigbo, Babatunde Ajayi, did not meet the monarch but registered their grievances and requests with the palace officials.

Oluwakemi Ogunnowo, one of the protesters who spoke with HumAngle said the traders got only a four-day quit notice from the government before the demolition last December.

According to her, she and other traders had been at the mercy of “hot sun and dust” since the market was razed by fire last year.

“We want our governor to come and repair the market for us. We are really suffering. It is a year now that the market burnt, and they have not done anything. We want the governor to come and start work on time because rain is coming,” she said.

Stephen Egbeaya, another trader who joined the protest said there was no sign that the reconstruction would start soon.

“We have seen the demolition by the government but for over a month now we cannot see any work starting. We are shopless, we are suffering from dust, sun and rain,” Egbeaya said.

“I am pleading to our governor to come and help us build our market back.”

We Would Start Reconstruction Soon – Ogun Govt

Meanwhile, Ogun State Government has called for calm, assuring that reconstruction work would soon commence in the market.

Jagunmolu Omoniyi, the State Commissioner for Housing, while speaking with journalists in Abeokuta, the state capital assured the aggrieved traders that reconstruction of the demolished market would start “within the next one week or thereabout”

He said the state government, through the Ministry of Physical and Urban Planning, was taking its time to put things in place before the reconstruction.

“The governor and his team have considered and approved the reconstruction of Sabo market, Sagamu. If you could recall, the shanties were brought down late last year,” Omoniyi said.

“We were able to level all the shanties to pave way for the new construction that will come in place.”

“Before we would move to the site, there are basic things we need to do. We cannot say because we are in government we should circumvent the necessary approval process. 

“We were able to submit our preliminary plans and drawings to the Ministry of Physical and Urban Planning so that they can vet whatever we are going to do.”

Omoniyi also hinted that the first cluster of shops in the market, “which numbered around 150 to 200 shops” would be delivered by May 2021.

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