Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) Sunday agreed to re-open West Africa's largest auto-spare part market, Ladipo Market on the ground that traders "take a lead in its clean-up exercise and sign undertaking not to trade roadside and on the canal".
The governor gave the conditions while inspecting the market along with Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello and the Chairman of the State Taskforce on Environmental and Special Offences Unit, Mr. Bayonle Sulaiman, precisely one week after the market was shut.
During the inspection, the governor explained that the market was shut after warnings and visits by different teams of the state government functionaries; yet the traders did not heed the warning.
He described the state of the market as massive degradation of a section of the state, stating that the good thing in the visit was that the traders had seen the lack of caution in their deed and were ready to make amends.
"It is a massive degradation of a section of Lagos and this is not acceptable. People should not carry on like this. But what is, perhaps, worthy of note is that those who are involved have seen the error of what they have done here and are ready to work with us to clean-up and I have said here that they must take the lead", the governor said.
Speaking on the canal, Fashola explained that the canal there "poses a lot of danger and we are expecting heavy rains. I don't want to come back here to pick any dead body. We built the canal and we must make it work by not trading on it and not dumping refuse in it.
"People told me that they picked engine parts, spare-parts and other things from the canal. It must stop. There is now an agreement between the traders and the government to work together to clean up the place and continue with the business there," he explained.
On this note, the governor said before the state government would reopen the market, the traders must clean-up the place and put strategies in place "to ensure that there would be no trading on the roads in the area and no reversal to the old situation that led to its closure.
"If you must trade here, you must stay behind the property line. You can see the damage you have caused to the road. We have to come back to re-do the road. Now this will be done with taxpayers' money.
It is fine that you want to do business but those who pay the money used to construct the road must also be able to use it and how do they do that if you take over the road?", the governor asked.
According to the governor, the only reason we are in government is to make you prosper but you must help us do that. You are going to work with the Ministry of Environment. You are going to clean up the place yourselves".
He said: "You will clean first and when you have done it, I will come back and I will bring members of your leadership who came to me and we will say this is the agreement now. We will sign a new agreement, nobody trades on the road, it must be behind the property line. Nobody trades on the pavement, it is for pedestrians".
He explained that it "is in your own interest that the roads are open to vehicular traffic. We have seen the volume of vehicles that ply here, they need parts, but they cannot even get here because of the road. Also disease will come so that after you make the money you fall sick and die prematurely instead of living to an old age".
In a response, President General of the Ladipo Central Executive of the Auto Dealers' Association, Mr. Ikechukwu Animalu agreed that the environmental situation at the market was bad and apologized on behalf of the traders pledging that he would lead them to clean it up as well as ensure that there would be no more trading either on the road or on the canal.
Animalu also pledged that the traders would henceforth maintain high level of environmental sanitation in the market including keeping the canal clean and free of any materials that could block the free flow of rain water.