21 December 2012

Nigeria: Traders Protest as Board Closes UTC Market

Traders at the popular UTC market in Abuja held a peaceful protest on Thursday following the closure of the market by officials of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB).

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the traders were prevented from entering the market, located in Area 10, Garki, Abuja, when they came yesterday.

Some of the traders told NAN that the board sealed-off the premises because of the non-evacuation of the refuse they generated.

Some of the placards carried by the traders, who chanted slogans, read "this evil and injustices must end" and "those behind this evil will die."

Mr Chukwu Francis, the Chairman of UTC market, told NAN that the AEPB shut down the market on Thursday without any verbal or written notice.

He said the service charge being paid by the traders was outrageous, compared to what their counterparts in other markets were paying.

"The problem at hand is because of service charge; we have been given a certain bill to pay that we consider scandalous.

"Some shops were asked to pay N190,000 as service charge, others N135,000, while the least is N65,000 per annum. This is more than what our counterparts in other markets pay."

Francis, however, said that as a result of negotiation between the market executives and the Abuja Market Management Limited, 80 per cent of traders had paid their service charge out of fear.

"It is the 20 per cent that has not paid that prompted them to shut down the market.

"AEPB locked up the market because the law establishing it empowers it to seal off any environment found to be dirty," he said.

Francis said that when the traders brought a truck to evacuate the waste AEPB refused the truck entry. NAN

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