• Sunday, April 14, 2024
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BusinessDay

Sanitising market operations in Lagos

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It is good news that the popular Ladipo auto spare parts market in the Mushin area of Lagos, which was shut about two weeks ago by the Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola, has been reopened. The market was reopened on Monday after the traders signed an agreement to abide by the state environmental laws and raise sanitary standard in the market.

The market was closed on February 25, 2013 following what the Lagos State government referred to as abuse of sanitation laws and indiscriminate dumping of refuse into drainage channels and construction of stalls and road setbacks and drainage alignments. Indeed, when BusinessDay visited the market during the closure, it was discovered that illegal structures were built along drainage paths and canal setbacks turned to shops and trading points. Disused engines, abandoned vehicles, auto parts discarded by the traders, lack of toilet facilities, degradation of the environment with fuel and diesel were some of the common features within the market. These caused regular traffic congestion along the road, among other environmental hazards.

While it remained closed, the once congested market was deserted, with some frustrated-looking traders hanging around the area. It is estimated that the traders in the market lost about N2 billion within the period.

Now that the market has been reopened, with the government reeling out conditions for the traders, which include the non-conversion of the drainage right of way (RoW) to trading points and mechanic workshops; non-conversion of the access roads in the market to trading points; non-conversion of the shops in the market to residences; no dumping of wastes and vehicle parts into canal; maintaining the general cleanliness of the market environment at all times, among others, it is expected that the traders, who have agreed to these conditions, will do well to comply with these terms – for their own good and the good of the state.

But beyond Ladipo, there is a need to sanitise markets in Lagos. A cursory look at markets in Lagos paints a picture of chaos. Even in designated markets, traders prefer to display their wares on the main streets. Throughout the city, markets have sprung up indiscriminately along the major highways. For instance, at Oshodi, Agege, Ikeja roundabout and Mile 12, mini-markets have taken over the roads. The Yaba, Oshodi and Oyingbo rail lines have also been turned into illegal street markets, creating urban development crisis.

In this era of climate change, which could be worsened by poor sanitation habits, traders cannot be allowed to continue to litter the canals and desecrate the environment, especially following meteorological warnings of heavy rains this year. The heavy rains will inevitably lead to flooding that will not only affect the markets but many places around the markets as well.

We believe that organised trading in designated markets can be enforced. It is possible to create markets for particular brands of goods in certain areas. The authorities in Lagos must wake up to the challenge of a mega city, which Lagos has become. Concerted efforts should be made to plan the city and its services more creatively. Obviously, Lagos is not as complex as New York or London where order and sanity still prevail. Something must be done to address the problem