Mile 12 Market: Deaths, Exodus of People And Produce | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Mile 12 Market: Deaths, Exodus of People And Produce

Posted: Mar 19, 2016 at 1:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)
Hazeez Balogun, Adebisi Oluyemi, Ifeoma Ononye, Anthonia Duru, Lukmon Akintola
It is no longer news that the popular Mile 12 market in Lagos was locked down weeks ago. This followed the wake of violence that erupted on the night of March 2, which continued to the morning of the 3rd.
The ruckus left many dead, and many more injured. Shops were looted and razed. It took the intervention of the police to stop the violence. The fight was said to be caused by a fracas between Yoruba and Hausa communities in the market.
Instantly, governor of the State ordered a lock down of the market. In a statement Governor Ambode said, “In order to further restore calm in the community, I have ordered that the Mile 12 market be temporarily shut and urge traders and other stakeholders to eschew violence and be law abiding. Furthermore, I have ordered temporary restriction of movement in four streets-Oniyanrin, Maidan, Agiliti 1 and Agiliti 11 streets,” he said.
Mile 12 is not the first market to be closed down after an unfortunate incident. Markets such as the popular textile market known as Tejuoso Market and even the Oshodi Market have all come under lock and key at one time or the other. Tejuoso was locked down after a fire accident, while Oshodi was kept under lock due to ‘security reasons’.
Also, parts of Ladipo International Auto Spare Parts Market, Mushin, Lagos, recently joined the list. While the Mile 12 Market is currently under lock and key with traders relocating to other places like Kara to sell their wares, most part of the Ladipo Market was levelled beyond recognition in the early hours of March 9 leaving properties worth over ‘300 billion Naira’ destroyed. Independent learned that Sangross Market has also been lined up for demolition.
Is these all part of the Mega City Plan? So what is the motivation behind the lock, demolition and subsequent reconstructions of these markets? It is believed to be part of the Mega city agenda. Years back, during the regime of Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the concept Mega City was made known. The project has since been followed religiously by his predecessors, Babatunde Raji Fashola and the present and the present governor Akinwunmi Ambode.
Some of the mega city projects which the state has embarked on since the conception of the idea includes the multi-billion Dollar Eko Atlantic City, the Light Rail Scheme from Orile to Mile 2, the redevelopment of the Lagos-Badagry expressway into 10 lanes incorporating BRT lanes and light rails, reconstruction of the Mile 12-Ikorodu road incorporating BRT lanes, the recently commissioned Ejigbo-Ajao Estate link bridge among others. 
If indeed the plan is to modernise these markets, then some pertinent questions need be asked: What is the government doing in the interim to accommodate these traders? Will the markets be cheap enough for the ordinary trader to rent? Will everyone get a space? How long will it take? The above are some of the questions Lagos traders want the government to answer
Movement to Kara
After the closure, the traders migrated to Kara, the popular cow market along Lagos Ibadan expressway around Berger Bus Stop. A visit to Kara indicates that Kara was obviously not a good choice. The place is over-crowded and even worse than Mile 12.
Within the week, the newly encroached portion of the Kara market was observed to be conspicuously filthy, littered with spoilt tomatoes and pepper and the air was rented with foul smell. It was also noted that towards the weekend, the influx of trailers conveying the goods from Northern Nigeria built up traffic jam along the expressway.
The situation is so bad that the Ogun State government is taking the heat. This is what Bolaji Oyeleye, the Ogun State Commissioner for Environment said about Kara when we reached him: “That place wasn’t originally a market for perishable items as you can see. For well over four years we told the cattle traders that we will be relocating them to where we are taking this market to. The area is in total mess. The leaders of the Cattle Market will attest to this and that is the space we have for them.”
Movement to Ogere
The Ogun State government finally came up with a solution to the debacle. Senator Ibikunle Amosun, the State Governor, ordered the relocation of the traders from the popular Kara market to Ogere, where about 300 hectares of land was provided for the traders.
The new market space has been provided with a sleeper road that ensures that traffic in and out of the complex does not adversely affect the expressway. In a bid to ensure that the traders do their business in a conducive, secured and healthy environment, Governor Amosun equally ensured that the new market complex is provided with not less than four boreholes alongside the presence of a stream at the location.
The Governor, while welcoming the traders to the new location, on Monday, assured them of his administration’s determination to provide them a modern market fitted with Fire Service center, modern stalls, a police station, an abattoir as well as other services.
While Mile 12 was away
Mile 12 market had been the source for food items in Lagos. It is where merchants mostly from the Northern part of Nigeria, offload their cargo of produce while wholesalers buy from them in bulk. In turn, retailers from all over Lagos come around to but for their stalls. Even end users also take advantage of the open market especially if they need large quantities of food materials for events.
The commerce that takes place in the place is there according to analysts runs into billions of Naira. Tomatoes, Yam, Fruits, and other produce move in and out of the market in thousands of tons every day.
Thousands earn their livelihood in the relatively small patch of land. There you have the traders, the truck drivers, the basket sellers, the load carriers, middle men, off-load and on-loaders. There are also many others earning their living there rendering services that has nothing to do with the produce. There are microfinance bank workers, who came around to collect savings from traders. There are water suppliers who sell water to traders to clean their products.
All these activities make the place too busy and too dirty. Where you have perishable goods being sold, there are tendencies for the place to be smelly and unkempt. That is the case for the Mile 12 market. From the entrance, one can tell that the place is a large mass of filth despite the fact that it is the same place, most of our food is coming from.
As you go into the now closed market, asides from the stench from spoilt food, you notice the ground you stand on is not really solid. The years and years of accumulated wastes have made the ground mushy. If you are not well balances, you may slip and fall. You also would not be doing the smart thing by wearing a fancy shoe to such a place. In fact by the gates, you have women that rent out rain boot to allow you move through all the mush easily.
Also, due to the large volume of people and vehicles coming to the market, the traffic situation in the area has become a big problem. Whether you are coming from Ketu, or from Ikorodu on the other side, you are sure to encounter a traffic jam at Mile 12 area. In the early 90’s, the government build an overhead bridge in the area to reduce the traffic, but that seem not to work as well.
Traders and marketers going into Mile 12 are so many that they block other vehicles trying o use the bridge. So most times the bridge is empty while the traffic towards Mile 12 is heavy. Pedestrians are also very many. Despite the foot-bridge constructed, you see many people dashing across the road in front of on-coming vehicles.
All these contribute to the daily hold-up in the area. Those living in Ikorodu can testify to the hardship they face on a daily basis trying to get home. Even as late as 10m, the Mile 12 area still is clogged with vehicles.
But things in the area has changed drastically since the eviction of traders and lock up of the market by Lagos State Government. For one, the stench in the area has subsided and the whole area looks deserted. There are still some traders still seen by the side of the market, but they are very few in number. Probably those trying to sell off their remaining goods before moving to the new site of the market in, Ogun State.
The residents of the area however have mixed reactions about the closure of the market. The closest streets to the market include, Oniyanri Street, Maidan Street, Agiliti 1 and Agiliti 2 streets. Trading activities from the market had extended to the streets, and it was normal to see traders trading openly on the roads of the streets.
Speaking with the residents of Mile 12 area, many heaved a sigh of relief that the market has been moved away from the place. But there were also some who are not happy with the uproot. Aderonke Aderogba, a student who live on Agiliti 1 street said, “I am very happy that the market is gone. Number one, the smell of the place is terrible. But we are used to it so we don’t notice. But anytime I go to school and come back, I smell the place again. Also, the place is very quiet now.”
For Daniel who also lives in Agiliti 1, he as well is happy for the movement of the market. “I am happy they are gone. When they were here walking to your house is wahala. And you see all these agbero boys all around. I did not feel safe. I have been living here for two years now, and this were getting worse. I think it is a good thing the left. That place is not meant for such a market. I know people will lose business but they will soon settle where they are going,” he said.
Samuel, a barber at Maidan Street seems not to be happy with the development. According to him business has dropped significantly for him just in the few days the market was removed. According to him the place “brings in customers for me. As early as six in the morning, I would have customer. See now, since morning I only have one customer. I beg the government to reopen the market.”
Return to Mile 12
Just when the traders are beginning to settle down in their new relocation in Ogere, Ogun State, The Lagos State government announced that it has re-opened the mile 12 market. Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, announced the re-opening of the market on Thursday.
The State’s Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Steve Ayorinde, said the decision to re-open the market was reached after a meeting with stakeholders. He told reporters that agreement was reached with all stakeholders including, traditional leaders, residents and the community development association.
Some agreements reached include a prohibition on no street trading in the area and activities relating to the market would take place within designated market premises. There is also a ban on commercial motorcyclists in the area and removal of shanties and illegal structures.
Mile 12: Future Uncertain
Despite the return, a prolonged stay in the market is not sure for the traders in the market. From our finding, State sources confirmed to Independent that the re-opening is on a temporal basis as the government has finalised plans of putting the would-be permanent sight in order.
According to a Lagos state government official who pleaded anonymity, the state government has agreed with the stakeholders involved in the operation of the Mile 12 Market to move the market to a more suitable location.
The government official stated that part of the reasons mile 12 market is being relocated is the constant traffic congestion the market has subjected the residents to and the crisis that pops up in the market once in a while. Therefore, the state government has concluded that moving the market to a more convenient location will not only improve traffic movement in ikorodu road but also foster safety for the residents.
After the crisis at Mile 12, Lagos state government came to the conclusion that the market has over stayed its welcome in the area. Aside the traffic the market subjects the residents to on a daily basis, the safety of the residents are also at stake whenever there is crisis in the market.  Relocation of the Market to another suitable location is also as a result that the existing market can no longer contain the traders.” He said
On the permanent location the government is planning to move the market to, the official explained that for now no one is certain of the location but that there is a serious consideration of moving the market to somewhere called Parafa, a far outskates of Ikorodu, Lagos.
The government official also confirmed that the market movement and remodeling of most markets in Lagos state which started from Oshodi, to tejuosho is part of the process of achieving the plan of turning Lagos state in a mega city.   He explained that in the past, most of these markets were not well structured and thereby does not conform with the mega city plan for Lagos.
For now, market activities are returning to Mile 12 gradually. The accompanying stench and traffic gridlock is surely to follow.