The Lagos State task force has demolished shanties and other illegal buildings at the popular Agboju Market, on the town’s Buffa Zone, Festac Town.
Traders, mechanics and other artisans operating on the zone wept as they counted their losses when bulldozers turned their goods, shops and workshops into rubbles on Sunday.
The task force was working for the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), NAN reports.
Both the leader of the task force and a representative of FHA refused to comment on the development.
They told NAN that they did not have the authority to speak on the matter.
More than 100 shops, shanties and other buildings were pulled down by the task force.
While some traders and artisans hurriedly moved out some of their wares and tools, many of them could not.
Some churches operating at the place were seen moving their property, removing the roofs and gates away in case of demolition.
As at the time of this report, however, no church building was pulled down.
NAN gathered that FHA gave the affected occupants a notice of the demotion a week ago.
Many traders and artisans were seen moody and crying. They told NAN that they were fed up with challenges.
Vice president of the Nigerian Automobile Technicians Association (NATA), Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area, Isaac Kadiri, described the demotion as a disaster.
“We believe that if the government wants to chase us away, it should be able to give us an alternative, but they just gave us seven days’ notice to leave.
“We had an alternative place at 6th Avenue that was given to us by Festac Town Residents Association (FTRA) and Federal Housing Authority (FHA) but the place is not ready.
“We put the access roads here, but look at what we are losing. We have lost more than N100 million here. What we have lost here we can’t gain back.
“We have mechanics, battery chargers, vulcanisers, panel beaters and painters as our members.
“We were served the seven days’ ultimatum through Lagos State Task Force, which claimed FHA invited it to carry out the demolition.”
Mr Kadri called on the government to urgently provide an alternative place for the artisans and others affected by the demolition.
“We want the government to give us a place where we can earn our living. If it says the site is ready tomorrow, we will move.
“We were paying rent to Amuwo Odofin Local Government. We are paying tax to Lagos State Government. We pay rent of N10,000 each, per annum. We are more than 5,000 artisans,” he lamented.
A panel beater and painter Hamad Tijani said that the place was just bushes and swamp when they first came but that they sand-filled the place and many people were benefitting from what they did there.
“Government should help us as citizens of this country. There is no place for us to go,” he told NAN.
Meanwhile, Fatai Onidolu, a mechanic, alleged that the place allocated to the artisans by FHA at 6th Avenue had been sold.
“So where do they want us to go now? They gave us seven days’ notice which is too short to find an alternative. Why are they treating us this way?”
A cleric in Festac Town who pleaded anonymity appealed to FHA to show mercy to the affected occupants.
He said that many Nigerians were undergoing hardship occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, insecurity and economic difficulty and did not need additional trouble.
He said that although the government had a right to its property, the timing of the demolition was wrong and the notice short