Initially existing as a remote area, and more like an abandoned space in the Abule-Egba area of Lagos, the trading district known as Katangowa Market has evolved over the years.
Asides the trading of used clothes, bags, and shoes the market is famous for, Katangowa housed a mechanic village and other businesses.
Until the Lagos state government stormed the market with bulldozers for demolition, the market was a destination for many shoppers in and beyond the shores of the state.
When Pulse visited the market on Wednesday, February 12, 2020, it observed that it is no longer business as usual for traders. Serious demolition is ongoing, and some traders who used to sit comfortably in their shops have been left with no choice but to loiter the roadside.
Traders are not the only ones affected. Sadly, some residents whose houses are built in and around the market have been displaced.
What you should know
In a statement obtained by Pulse, the Lagos Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development said the demolition of the Katangowa Market was because of the state government's plan to relocate the Computer Village from Ikeja.
Initiated by former Lagos governor, Bola Tinubu, the relocation of Computer Village from Ikeja to Katangowa Market, according to the ministry, is as a result of the environmental degradation, traffic congestion , pollution and menace of social miscreants caused by the operations of the Computer Village.
The ministry said while the relocation of Computer Village will increase the housing stock in Ikeja and return the area to its designated residential use, it will also serve as a new focus for the socio-economic development of the Lagos Mega City.
The Iya-Oja General in Agbado Oke-Odo, Chief Mrs Alade Goerge spoke to Pulse on the ongoing demolition of Katangowa Market.
According to her, the traders were not considered in the decision to relocate Computer Village to Katangowa.
George lamented that the demolition is evidence that the Lagos government doesn't work in the interest of the masses.
She said, "The ongoing demolition in the market is not being done in a proper way. At least, we as traders in the market are meant to be carried along. Now, look at the man that just left here, he's a tailor. He had a shop, and now they have scattered everywhere.
"Look at me the way I'm sitting here as well, a whole Iya-Oja of the whole Agbado Oke-Odo."
When asked if traders were notified before the demolition, the Iya-Oja said they (traders) had earlier been told to vacate, but it was with nowhere in place for them to move to.
She added, "Although, they have been saying they will demolish the market long before now, that they will bring Computer Village here. But then, is it not appropriate to have somewhere ready for traders to move to? They just came with caterpillars and started demolishing everywhere. There is no single place provided for traders to move to."
George explained that the demolition has affected the traders, which can best be explained individually.
Bernard Okolie, a trader in the market, said they were being lied to.
According to Okolie, they were told initially that a re-construction was what will happen in the market, as the government promised them (the traders) that the Katangowa Market will be reconstructed.
He said, "We have been given notice to vacate Katangowa before now. During the former governor, Babatunde Fashola's tenure, we were assured that this market will not be demolished but reconstructed."
Okolie lamented that the demolition will contribute to the poverty already existing in the country. He added, "This market caters for more than 15 million people. Millions of people feed from this market, and it is pathetic that the government is leaving people to starve with the recent development."
More so, Jumoke Adeyemi, who's also a trader in the market, said many people have been left with doing nothing since the demolition started.
Adeyemi stated that the government would have done good by relocating the traders in Katangowa Market to another place to do business.
"Many people had returned home, and some of us who can't stay at home have been left with no choice than to hang on the roadside to make sales," she added.
Sadly, traders are not the only ones affected by the demolition. Some residents have also been affected.
During the visit to Katangowa, Pulse noticed that some houses have been demolished. While some are marked for demolition already, other houses have had their fences and parts of their buildings chopped off.
Arogundade Owoyemi, a resident in the area the market is located, lamented that the demolition is not fair.
He said, "The demolition has displaced many people in the area, as they do not have a house of their own any longer. Imagine being a landlord today, and tomorrow, you became homeless all of a sudden. There is no harsh reality one can experience than this."
Another resident of the area who doesn't want his name mentioned, said the demolition has thrown many people into unexpected life challenges.
"I know of a man who has been bedridden before the demolition began. His family members are keeping the news from him that his house has been demolished. Do you expect that man to survive his sickness if eventually he learnt that he has been displaced from the house he built?" she asked.
Lagos government responds
The Commissioner, Lagos Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr. Idris Salako, said a comprehensive enumeration and inventory had been done before the demolition of the Katangowa Market.
According to him, in order to douse the tension surrounding the demolition, several meetings were held with stakeholders, and it was resolved that some compensation will be paid on compassionate grounds.
Salako further explained that the ministry engaged 5 developers to construct rows of shops within the site, and after much deliberations and negotiations, an out-of-court settlement of N30,000,000 was agreed as a once and for all compensation to the 5 developers identified for the shops, which were at different stages of completion at the time.
The commissioner said the compensation was eventually made to the developers in 2014, after which the shops for which the Lagos government had paid compensation were completed by unknown persons and occupied by traders illegally.
Irrespective of that, Salako said the state government had made provisions for the resettlement of the traders, adding that efforts to engage and involve everybody in the relocation and redevelopment exercise are still in progress.