By Nefisetu Yakubu
The Edo Waste Management Board, in conjunction with the State Task Force Committee on Environment, on Monday demolished about 1,000 makeshift shops and shanties located within the King’s square in Benin.
Mr Aiyamenkhue Akonofua, the General-Manager of the board disclosed this while speaking with newsmen.
He said the activities of traders in the city centre had undermined the beautification policy of the state government.
Akonofua said the exercise was in line with the government’s determination to keep the state clean and eradicate street trading.
He explained that the traders were hindering the free flow of human and vehicular traffic, adding that the area had become a haven for criminally-minded persons.
“Besides hindering the free flow of human and vehicular movements, the traders have made the areas untidy.
“We are going to demolish all makeshift shops and shanties located within the ever busy Lagos street, Mission road, Ibiwe and Ekenhuan road.
“This is purely aimed at easing the free flow of human and vehicular movements in the city.’’
Akonofua said the traders were earlier notified of the intention of the government to clear the areas.
He, therefore, said it would amount to `treachery’ for anyone to describe the action as anti-people.
“We had announced the plans at stakeholders’ meetings where the leadership of the traders’ associations were present.
“We had also embarked on awareness campaigns to the various markets on government’s plans to evacuate traders from the walkways.’’
Akonofua noted that the Gov. Godwin Obaseki-led government was determined to sustain the state government beautification policy and eradicate street trading.
However, a cross section of the traders described the action as inimical to the growth of small-scale businesses in the state.
They said that demolitions were strange as according to them, city managers around the world had always allowed room for corner shops.
On his part, Emeka Igwe, whose shop was demolished, described the action as anti-people.
Igwe said those 1,000 shops that were destroyed had negatively affected many families in the state.
Osas Ogbebor expressed dissatisfaction in the manner the government went about the demolition without alternative measures.
“We were not given the opportunity to evacuate our goods,’’ Ogbebor said.