Over 1000 Shops demolished by El-Rufai’s bulldozers in Zaria

Shops turn to rubble as government’s buldozers demolishes Palladan Market, Zaria Kaduna State, Last Saturday July 11, 2020.

The Kaduna State Government earlier in 2019, demolished Kasuwan Magani in Kajuru Local Government Area of the state following it up by bringing down the market structures at the Sabon Gari, Dan Magaji markets in Zaria LGA also bringing down the popular Kawo Market in Kaduna North reports Alexander Johnson Adejoh.

The demolition excercise did not end there as in the month of March, shortly before the pandemic, the governor’s bulldozer was seen leveling the Kasuwar Barci of Kaduna South  and in addition to that is the recent demolition of the biggest market in Palladan, Sabon Gari Local Government Area, Zaria, Kaduna State leaving traders and indegenes lamenting ‘who knows what the government bulldozer will turned their attention to next?’

Not long after the over 40-year-old market structures at Kasuwar Barci market was demolished, Kasuwan Palladan equally came down in an exercise that was partly executed by the government and partly done by the traders themselves Fides gathered.

Fides gathered that Kasuwan Palladan is the biggest markets within Palladan, Zango and Emanto axis of Zaria metropolis after Samaru and Bassawa Market, leaving many traders dumfounded when a 24-hour quit notice was issued to them by the state government. The Kaduna Urban Planning and Development Agency (KAPSUDA) had said the notice was in line with the urban renewal project of the state government even though the traders say they saw the action from a different light; fearing they will lose their shops and may not have access to the modern ones expected to be built by the government.

The market which is located at Palladan, directly opposite Nigeria College of Aviation Technology, NCAT, in a largely condensed community, with most of the shop owners in Kasuwan Palladan were residents of Ugwan-Fullani, Bassawa, Zango, Emanto, Palladan town,  and other communities within the metropolis. Despite being one of the oldest markets in the metropolis with over 1000 shops, congestion has caught up with the market, blurring the line between where residential areas start and the market ends.

An eye witness btold Fides that there are various sections including those of local fabrics, provisions, electronics, tailoring as well as imported fairly used clothes popularly referred to as ‘Gwanjo’. There were also sections for baby wears, shoes as well as grains, meat and other items.

Fides recalls that, when El-Rufai came into office in 2015, he had promised to renovate all major markets within the metropolis, a promise traders noted that he could only keep by demolishing old structures of markets across the state. So, barely 24 hours after the expiration of the notice and while negotiation was still ongoing between KASUPDA and the traders’ union, officials of the agency, accompanied by security personnel stormed the market in early hours of Saturday, July 11, 2020 and demolished few shops as a warning sign to the traders, another eye witness disclosed.

According to affected shop owners the government’s action had propelled them (the traders) to begin knocking down their own shops to secure items such as doors and windows for fear that they may altogether lose them should the bulldozers return. It was in this process that a building collapsed, leaving a teenager and others critically injured.

Speaking to Fides via telephone interview, Mallam Nuradeen Yahaya, a provision seller who owned a shop at the demolished market noted that he would rather resort to self-demolition than wait for KASUPDA to pull down his shop and in the process deny him the opportunity to remove his belongings.

He expressed disappointment that the government had given only one day to the traders to vacate their shops, adding that, ‘why then will I wait until they arrive with their bulldozers before I leave.  I can’t do what they did to us to my worst enemy without an alternative,’ Yahaya said.

Fides also gathered that many traders at market resorted to self help by removing doors, windows and building rods of their shops before the demolition.

Yahaya added that his aged father owned four shops in the market and had traded in the market for over 40 years. He said his father had hoped that he would pass on the shops to his family at the end of his life but said all his goods have now been evacuated to their family home in Bassawa before the family rents a shop.

For his part, Bello Sani, a fabric merchant said he equally moved all his fabrics to his home for safe keeping pending when he finds another shop to rent. ‘My uncle has two shops while I have one. We also have a commercial toilet facility inside the market but all have been demolished out of fear and we have not been given alternatives. This is unfair,’ Sani told Fides.

He added that the market union had met with the Market Development and Management Company and KASUPDA to find solutions to the issue a day before the commencement of the demolition but the meeting could not stop the bulldozers.

‘We pleaded with the authorities involved to allow us provide a workable solution that will ease the difficulties our members found themselves,’ he said, adding that they had finally discussed how to come up with a workable plan for the demolition to take place in batches.

However, Fides gathered that the Director-General of KASUPDA, Alhaji Ismail Umar Dikko, was quoted on a radio station saying the market traders needed to be calm as the agency’s intension towards them was positive and was working to provide alternative markets for the traders.

He also said traders at Kawo Market whose shops were demolished were provided with temporary alternative, as such same will be done to those in affected markets across the state.

All efforts to reach the Kaduna State, Commissioner for Information, was abortive as at press time.

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