By Christiana Ekpa
Senate yesterday ordered the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) Chairman Abdullahi Candido to suspend planned eviction of traders at the Utako market.
Senate Committee on Federal Capital Terristory (FCT) gave the directive
at a meeting it held with chairman and officials of AMAC and the delegation of Utako Traders Association at the National Assembly.
The Senate Committee Chairman, Senator Dino Melaye while calling for truce between the council and the traders urged the council to beware of inflicting economic hardship on the traders in the guise of remodelling of the market facility.
Melaye who equally assured the traders that senate willingness to meddle into the matter with a view to reaching an amicable solution that would be favourable to both parties, noted that despite assurances by the council boss that no shop owner will be dislocated from their shops as a result of ongoing renovation work in the market blamed the misunderstanding on fear of past experiences where traders were removed from their shops without any form of compensation or reallocation.
“There is lack of trust judging from past experiences, the traders were not compensated while new shops were not allocated to former owners.”
Melaye warned the Council Chairman against throwing the traders into economic crisis, but assured traders of senate protection just as he urged them to be confident and allow the senate to go into the matter and come with a good resolution.
Senator Melaye also charged Amac to be fair and honest to the traders in its dealings concerning the ongoing work in the market and also make sure not to repeat past mistakes.
Chairman of the traders association Nelson Onwuamaodo, accused the council of planning to dislodge shop owners without plans to reallocate new shops to them.
Onwuamaodo stressed that dislodging traders at the utako market under the guise of remodelling has become a recurring event.
He told the senate committee that previous AMAC Administrations have often revoked the allocation to the traders and resold reconstructed shops to new persons without compensating the former owners.
He pleaded the senate to ask developers already carrying out constructions to stop work and allow marketers to develop it by themselves.
But the AMAC Chairman said that the council is only keying into the policy of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Administration on giving face-lifts to facilities in the FCT as stipulated.
According to Candido who insistent that there has been transparency in project, the operation at the market did not engage a developer as alleged.
He said it is in his line of responsibility to ensure that assets belonging to AMAC are secured to ensure that individuals do not arrogate to themselves whatever belongs to the council. “The market was built in 1997, and before the allocation, it is a known fact that the market belonged to AMAC people,” he maintained.
He however promised that the ongoing remodelling of the market will not affect the traders in any way as they will all be settled at no cost to them.