Today, the Lagos State Government shut the popular auto spare parts market, Ladipo Market in Mushin area of Lagos, southwest Nigeria. Ten suspected Bakassi boys were also arrested during the closure of the market. Officials of the Lagos State Taskforce on Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit stormed the market as early as 4.00a.m and shut it because of the filth.
Last week, the Lagos State Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, visited the market and decried the wanton degradation of the environment and filthiness nature of the area and warned that if nothing was done, the market would be shut. The traders took the threat lightly and did nothing to remedy the situation.
DON'T MISS RELATED: Ladipo Market To Be Shut Down Indefinitely Over Filth
Hundreds of fully-armed taskforce officials led by its Chairman, Bayo Sulaiman, a Chief Superintendent of Police besieged the market and shut it down, with thousands of traders shut out. The traders were dispersed by taskforce officials with several canisters of teargas.
An Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) was stationed at the Toyota end of the Apapa-Oshodi expressway while the area was barricaded. The traders said they were caught unaware as they never expected the market to be shut.
A trader, who craved anonymity, said, "We don't like the closure. It will bring suffer to us. We came in this morning and met our market shut and the police stopped us from entering. No notice was given to us and what are we going to do now?"
Another trader, who identified himself as Nduibuisi, appealed to government to re-open the market as the traders would lose lots of money.
Taskforce Chairman Sulaiman said the state government had lots of issues with the market, ranging from hooliganism, lack of toilet facilities, degradation of the environment with diesel and fuel as well as traders in the market turning themselves to another government.
"We came here two weeks ago, but the officials of the market did not show up. There is serious trading going on in the streets and there are lots of shanties here. We will make sure that this time around, proper sanitation is done by the traders before this market will be re-opened and they have to submit to the chairman of Mushin Local Government," he stated.
Chairman, Mushin Local Government, Olatunde Adepitan described the closure of the market as a welcome development and long overdue, saying this is the only way forward for the Local Government.
"The hooliganism here has gone out of control. These people have turned themselves to another government. When you interfere in their matters here, they will tribalise the issue and that is why as a government we take things easy so that it will not escalate to a tribal issue.
"There is need to sanitise this place. The people here look at themselves as the Niger Delta of Mushin Local Government.
"We will liase with the taskforce officials to ensure that before re-opening this market, registration forms will be given to the people so that we can know who is who and those who are trading here because inside the Aguiyi Ironsi Market here, there are criminals. There are arms right in the market and there are Bakassi Boys living inside this market," he explained.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner for the Environment, Bello, said he ordered the closure of Ladipo Market after several meetings and warnings with the market leadership and traders about the deteriorating state of the market.
"The environment is seriously polluted and degraded with oil. Full and half engines, spare parts and human waste are dumped into surrounding canals while illegal structures are built along drainage paths and all the canal setbacks have been turned to shops and trading points.
"A visit to the place also shows that street traders have taken over the entire major inlet and outlet to the market, while residents have severally petitioned the Ministry of the Environment about lack of access to their homes and property. These traders have degraded all the major access roads to the market which need remediation rehabilitation," he said.
According to Bello, some of the conditions that might warrant re-opening of the market include: complete removal of all illegal structures and attached structures built along canal paths and that traders must be confined to the main markets.
"Under no condition must they trade or solicit for customers on the main road, they must remove all shops attachments built around the market/canals, remove all derelict and abandoned vehicles parked within the market as far as the expressway, remediate all forms of degradation on the roads and market area, sort out waste management issues with LAWMA as they cannot continue to dump into the canals, ensure total cleaning of the entire market and adjoining streets which they have degraded, among others."