As the deadline issued by the Delta State Government to illegal occupants and squatters to vacate the Ogbe-Ojoh Market in Warri South Local Government Area of the state expires today, panic-stricken traders have appealed for time extension to enable them vacate the popular market.
The state government had already authorised the relevant agents of the state’s special environmental sanitation committee to move into the waterfront Ogbe-Ijo Market tomorrow to enforce the sanitisation order. The government said it plans to ensure that stalls in the market are occupied only by those duly permitted to do so through regular allocation process.
It further said that the evacuation would enable the government complete the remaining portion of the market, adding that it hoped to address the prevalence of illegal trading as well as the spate of criminal activities in the adjoining areas. However, some of the affected traders under the aegis of “Meinbutu-Ijaws of Warri,” yesterday appealed to the state government to rethink its seven-day quit order served on the occupants of Ogbe-Ijoh Market.
Rising from several hours of meeting with the leaders of Meinbutus yesterday in Warri, an Ijaw leader, the Amanana-Owei of Meinbutu, King Jerry Prebor, called on the Delta State Government to extend the seven-day ultimatum to three months.
He noted that the extension of time would enable the occupants of the market to relocate as well as give the government room for the completion and proper allocation of stalls and stores in Ogbe-Ijoh Market.
The one week notice to the people to vacate the market was “too short” for the traders to find alternative accommodation for their business, Prebor observed.
While describing the government’s plans to upgrade the market as “a welcome development,” the traditional ruler however requested the government “to look into the plight of the occupants and give reasonable time for them to relocate.”
He pointed out that the occupants of the contentious market were not criminals but law-abiding citizens trying to eke out a leaving lawfully, adding that most of the Ijaws in the market were forced to take shelter there because of the devastating effect of the 2012 floods in parts of the country.
According to Prebor, “We support Government’s plan to develop Ogbe-Ijoh market and the entire Delta State. It will be our joy to see Ogbe-Ijoh Market commissioned and put into use like other modern markets.
The abandoned Ogbe-Ijoh Market if completed will create employment and empowerment of thousands of women and youths in Warri and environs.
“Ijaws are peace-loving people; we therefore plead with Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan whose government we have supported from its inception.”