Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

CLOSURE OF AJEGUNLE MARKETS: Another Attack on the Poor

CLOSURE OF AJEGUNLE MARKETS: Another Attack on the Poor

By Fidel Davynovic

Due to the economic crisis that is confronting the poor masses, millions of youths, adults and even aged have to begin to scratch a living in the petty trading to keep life going as an alternative to resolve some immediate needs. But this survival activities being undertaken by the poor masses have been threatened by the draconian laws and neo-liberal policies, hereby forcing a lot of these people into more poverty.

In Ajegunle, the boundary market and others like Alaba, Ijora-Badia, Orile etc. have been shut-down by the ACN government of Ajeromi Ifelodun (AJIF) local council giving dirty environment and trading the fence and road as the reasons.

It is shocking as the ACN government begins to shift social responsibility to the masses to provide. In the boundary market precisely, a lot of the traders set wares under terrible conditions. The tents are dilapidated. The roads inside the markets are eyesore and marshy. Everywhere is dirty and seriously smelling and, not conducive for people. Every wet season, the roads within the markets become impassable. The structures are collapsing. In fact, the government, especially AJIF has long abandoned the market without any proper maintenance . No new structures have been put in place to accommodate the poor traders selling and hawking on the road side.

The agenda behind these closures is to possibly hand over these markets to themselves at give-away price, so as to enable them charge more levies/rent after new structures have been rebuilt, which the poor traders cannot afford. Another reason the government is closing the markets like in other local governments is the huge sums of money the Lagos State Ministry of Environment extort from the traders as penalties and bribes before the markets are reopened.

Since the closure on Wednesday February 6, 2013, a lot of traders have relocated into the inner streets close to the boundary market especially those who sell in stalls in order to keep body and soul together. Those who have tents and shops have been denied access to enter the market. Anyone caught entering the market to sell is arrested by KAI and TASK force officers. But the survival of majority of these traders depends on this petty trading

Every Thursday of the week, sanitation exercise is carried out by traders to clean the surrounding in the market places. They even pay for the refuse disposed off by the Private Sector Participation (PSP) refuse collectors. Levies and tolls are also collected by the AJIF government from the market men and women to address sanitation and other problems, which they fail to provide. For instance, drainage in and around the markets are inadequate and poorly constructed. This is a major problem when maintaining clean environment. Other basic facilities like toilets etc., are also inadequate while some are in terrible state.

Besides, outrageous levies, taxes and tolls ranging from N100 to N500 are collected everyday from these traders are multiple. Most of the time traders fail to pay, their items are seized or they are charged to a kangaroo court . This has further shown that the ACN government is anti-masses and not in power to improve the living standard of the ordinary masses. The over N300 million generated every month by AJIF and millions received from federal allocations do not have any real impact on the poor working masses of Ajegunle. Instead, what the poor masses get are attacks, extortion and exploitation from the government.

One way out for an efficient market management in terms of cleaning the environment and putting in place adequate structures and facilities is for the Local government to take up its responsibilities. The Local government must scrap the private refuse collectors and resume responsibilities of cleaning the environment. The markets must democratically elect its own leadership that will ensure that all levies collected are properly accounted for and proper provision made for periodic cleaning of environment