The Bayelsa State government has intensified the demolition of illegal markets, structures and caravans around Yenagoa, despite complaints by the citizens.
Already, property owners in the state are furious about the exercise, claiming that the government is selective in its approach.
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The traders union claimed that over 10,000 of its members have been displaced and their goods destroyed in the process.
Some shops in Swali and Kpansia markets have been demolished, while traders at Tombia/Etekwe junction have been evacuated by the government which claimed there was no provision for a market in that location.
Also, illegal structures at Opolo and other communities in the state capital have been removed.
Governor Douye Diri, since assumption of office in February, has embarked on urban development projects, a situation that has led to the demolition of several structures said to have been built against the state’s development plan.
However, several people whose structures were demolished claimed that they were being witch-hunted for not supporting PDP during the 2019 governorship election in the state.
Also women, under the aegis of Association of Women in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, said they would embark on a protest over what they described as destruction of their sources of livelihood by the state government in the name of urban renewal.
The state coordinator of the group, Mrs. Peace Oruama, said the women were disturbed by the market demolition, adding that they were not against the urban renewal policy of the government, but a situation where all the places they plied their wares had been destroyed without any alternative.
They also faulted the claim by the state government that there were over 600 lockup stores at the Swali Ultra-Modern Market where displaced traders could relocate to.
They said vacancies at Swali were stores with open roofing and in marshy areas that could not be accessed by their customers when it rained.
Chairman of Okutukutu, Tombia/Etekwe junction Market, Alhaji Dahiru Yahu KT, whose market was demolished, said they have been doing business in the market since the administration of late Chief Diepreye Alamieyesigha, the first civilian governor of the state.
He pleaded that traders, who are struggling in markets to fend for their families, should not be sent out of business.
Also, Balalate Ingifa, who resides around one of the demolished markets, said it a bad situation for over 6,000 traders displaced, most of whom are old women.
A shop owner at the Tombia market, Godwin Abraham, lamented that the demolition team sealed his shop for more than two weeks with his perishable goods inside.
Mr Izibefien Sampson, Vice Chairman, Swali Ultramodern Market, noted that the demolition of illegal structures was posing a serious challenge as most traders didn’t have alternative place for their business.
Reacting to the complaints, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Ayibaina Duba, said the urban renewal drive of the state government was not only directed at markets but any illegal structure hampering the development drive of the government.
He denied insinuations that the demolition was targeted at the opposition, saying Governor Diri is poised to make Yenagoa a modern state capital.
“There is no designated market at Etekwe/Tombia roundabout. From 1996 till date, government has not designated a market in that place, so what you see there is that people just woke up one day and decided to turn a community to a market. So there is no market known to government there,” he said.