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Traders battle Bayelsa govt over market relocation

Traders at the popular Tombia-Etekwe market in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, have threatened to stage a protest over their alleged relocation from the market places…

Traders at the popular Tombia-Etekwe market in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, have threatened to stage a protest over their alleged relocation from the market places to a swampy area, which they described as only good for animals habitation.

 According to them, if the Diri-admininistration continued to be insensitive to them and the environment of the new market site, they will shut down market operations in the state to press home their grievances, stating that the state government is insensitive to the plights of the people to relocate them from their business places to swamp in the midst of economic hardship in the country.

The traders who spoke in separate interviews when members of the Federated Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Bayelsa State Council, visited the new market site, stated that they had not been making sales since the government forced them to evacuate the old market site on February 11, 2024.

 The state government had relocated the traders to the new market site about three days to the second-term inauguration of Diri and his deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, on February 14, as the road houses the state’s airport through which invited guests would drive to grace the event.

 Lamenting their suffering to the journalists, the traders said they had been recording losses since their relocation, as customers were not coming to buy things from them.

 Speaking on their challenges, the chairman of Okutukutu/Etegwe Market, Alhaji Dahiru Yauketi, complained that the government did not prepare the new market site properly before hurriedly relocating them.

 He said: “The government allocated this place for us and relocated us from the former market. Government has not finished preparing this present place, but all of us agreed to come. Secondly, the government did not finish the road to this market. Customers are not coming to this (new) market place. We come here every morning but can’t sell anything”, he said. 

Other traders including, Favour Sunday, Gladys Internet, Sunday Obi, Elo Edward and Madam Omo, who sell tomatoes and peppers among others, stated that apart from the lack of access road, there was no water, toilet facility and light around the new market site. 

“One basic thing we want the government to do for us is road. Number two, there should be no private markets anywhere. When the government was closing that pipeline market, the governor told us that he will give us a site and everybody will move here. He gave us this site without a road, still we moved here and now we are seeing private markets everywhere”, Madam Omo said. 

She added: “When you go to Okutukutu, by School Road, there is a private market. At the corner of one house, there is (also) a private market. Because of that, we that agreed to come to the new site are suffering. I have been here since one month ago and I have not sold one basket of tomatoes.

 “So we need government to come and do the road for us; give us water, toilet, light, and seal (off) every private markets. That’s what we want the government to do for us now.” 

Also speaking, a meat seller in one of the private markets, Gbenga Bamigboye, described the new market site as “A place not meant for human beings at all”.

 

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