AMAC, Traders Disagree Over Status Of Utako Market
Commercial activities were brought to halt in the ever busy Utako market last week as traders staged protest over the planned upgrade of the market by the Abuja Municipal Area Council, AMAC.
To demonstrate their grievances, traders abandoned their shops and picked up placards with various inscriptions, protesting within and outside the market, while security operatives barricaded the market entrances.
During the protest, the aggrieved traders specifically demanded justice over alleged plan by AMAC to dislodge them from the market following the commencement of demolition exercise since Sunday, December 3, and subsequent sealing of the market to pave way for its upgrade.
According to the chairman of Utako Shops Owners and Traders Market Association, Mr. Nelson Onwuemeodo, the Utako market the market was singlehandedly built by the traders, hence, the council lacks the mandate for any upgrade or demolition.
Onwuemeodo maintained that the traders were shocked when they saw police officers and bulldozers brought into the market by the council without prior notice.
He argued that AMAC only allocated the empty land for traders while the traders built the market based on the council’s design and strict supervision.
“If the government desires to build a new market, let them go and build. But if they are bent on destroying the market, let them bring a valuers and pay us the worth of the shops," he said.
He insisted that the council never invited the traders for negotiation before moving in the police and engineers for demolition of the market.
Onwuemeodo added that despite the fact that the traders paid taxes to the council, traders have not enjoyed any dividends of democracy in the market.
Similarly, women leader of the market, Hajia Zainab Salisu, urged the AMAC chairman not to renege on his promise of delivering dividends of democracy to the residents.
According to him, a situation where the council leadership would make promises and back out, does not augur well for the hapless traders, who are struggling to survive.
Reacting to the development, AMAC Chairman, Hon. Abdullahi Candido, who dismissed the alleged takeover, assured shop owners at the Utako market that no trader would be shortchanged, after remodeling of the market, assuring that no new person would be allocated unless all the allottees were given shops.
He argued that the market was an eyesore in the nation's capital, stressing that he was poised to reposition the market and protect the lives and property of traders.
According to him, "the redevelopment will start with the space that is not occupied, we don’t want to affect anybody’s source of livelihood that is why we are avoiding to relocate the market.
"We do not want crisis, we do not want a single soul to be lost hence the presence of the police is to protect lives and property".