20th May, 2013
The multi-million naira Awolowo market in Olosa area of Mushin in Lagos State is currently a shadow of itself as traders now shun the market because of the bitter experience they had in the past; no thanks to the litigation between the developer and Odi-Olowo Local Council Development Area, LCDA, which has crippled the market for the past five years after it was commissioned.
Thousands of shops are empty and traders are not willing rent and occupy the shops for fear of losing their goods as some of them had experienced in the past.
Corporate bodies such as banks and insurance companies have closed down their offices and left.
Even the traders there are moving out of the place on a daily basis and those who have not left are making plans to leave. Those still in the market lament that they do not make sales and their businesses are declining every day.
When P.M.NEWS Business Week visited the market, many shops were under lock and key while some traders were busy either sleeping or playing board games in their shops as there were no customers to attend to.
The chairman of the few traders remaining, Prince Tony Nkem, lamented the sorry state of the market and appealed to government, individuals and corporate bodies to come to their rescue.
He said at the initial stage, when the market was commissioned, all the shops, about 3,000 of them, were occupied by the traders until problem started between the developer and the council.
He explained that the market was lucky to have been commisioned when Tejuosho traders were displaced and it was quickly filled.
He said the disagreement between the developer and council got to a stage where the council brought keys and started locking shops already occupied by the traders.
He said that this caused a lot of problems because traders started moving their goods and left the market; and since then the market has not recovered.
“This market was opened for business five years ago and you can see the standard, yet traders refuse to come in to do their business here” he stated. Asked if the problem with the parties still persists, he said that the council has settled the developer and taken over the management, yet most shops are still empty because traders refused to rent the shops from the council.
He added that the market has no light, while the road that leads to the main entrance of the market is classified as one way which makes it difficult for customers to drive into the market.
“Invariably most customers prefer to go somewhere else to buy what they want” he said.
When P.M.NEWS Business Week contacted the head of the market from the council, she declined to make any comment, saying she is a civil servant and not authorized to speak to the press.