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Anambra govt demolishes 2,000 shops in Onitsha, displaces traders in unpopular move



In a controversial move, the Anambra State Government demolished over 2,000 shops located on Niger Street, Fegge, in Onitsha South Local Government Area on Monday, March 11th, 2024.

This action comes just days after a building collapse on Basden Street, Fegge, raising concerns about the safety of structures in the area.

The demolished shops were primarily used by petty traders and members of the Sand Miners Association of Anambra State, who stored equipment and ran operations from these locations. According to reports, the demolition exercise displaced over 4,000 people and caused millions of naira worth of damage to goods and equipment.

The illegal structures were said to have been built by traders who allegedly got the approval of the National Inland Water Ways, but the state governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, stated during a visit to the area last week that NIWA does not have the right to build or allocate spaces to traders on Anambra land.

“The code or bye-laws establishing NIWA gave the organisation 100 metres from the banks of the River Niger as right of easement but what we are seeing here are illegal structures and should be demolished,” the governor said.

The Chairman of Onitsha South Local Government Area, Emeka Orji, who supervised the demolition, told journalists and the displaced victims that he was acting on the orders of the state governor following the incessant building collapse in the area.

READ ALSO:Five-storey building collapses in Anambra, many feared trapped

Orji said, “A notice was issued as regards the demolition and it was followed by series of follow up notices but they disobeyed.

“Then last week, Mr Governor came here and told them that this place is not for shops or markets and ordered me to demolish the area but I gave them another one week notice which ended today.

“Everywhere cannot be market in Onitsha and we have declared war on illegal structures and we shall ensure that the right thing is done about building collapse in Onitsha South local government area.”

Traders expressed shock and anger at the lack of prior warning, claiming they were given no time to remove their belongings. Chief Okechukwu Okoye, Manager of Lake Petroleum Limited, a company that lost over 130 shops, refuted claims that the structures were illegal. Okoye asserted they possessed the necessary licenses from relevant federal agencies.

Okoye said, “We did not erect any illegal structures here; all the structures were legally registered and approved by the relevant government agencies and the appropriate payment made. It is therefore a surprise to us when they stormed the place and started demolishing without any prior notice.”

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