Protests: Rivers govt suspends allocation of shops at rebuilt market

Protests: Rivers govt suspends allocation of shops at rebuilt market

Monday, March 2, 2020 10:11 pm

Traders protesting over the method of allocation of shops

Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Rivers State Government has suspended allocation of stores at the newly rebuilt Fruit Garden Market and the Rumuwoji market, also known as Mile One market in response to protests and legal actions that have trailed the exercise.
Specifically, traders who said they are the original shop owners (people who owned stalls at the market before it was burnt and rebuilt) are protesting against the adoption of balloting system for allocation of shops in the rebuilt markets.
The Shop Owners of Mile One Market, otherwise known as Rumuwoji led by their spokeswoman, Mrs Mercy Obene, argued that since there are now over 2000 stalls in the market while members of his group are about 1000, the Rivers State Government should just allocate their original shops to their members and ballot the rest.
Also, Mary Watubor, another trader at the market said to ensure fairness in the allocation, the shops should not be balloted, but given back to the original shop owners directly.
The traders threatened to mobilize their members for massive protest if government go ahead to use balloting system for the allocation of the shops.
In the same vein, Leaders of Rivers Civil Society Organisations, RIVISCO, and their lawyer, Mr Higher  King, said a case has been filed  in the State High Court to stop the allocation of stalls at the rebuilt markets through the balloting system.
“Governor Nyesom Wike, as a lawyer,knows that once a case is filed in Court, the status quo remains, you cannot ballot what originally belongs people,” King said.
However, Rivers Commissioner for Special Duties, Dr. Thomas Barriere, who is in charge of allocation of shops at the Fruit Garden Market assured in an interview with newsmen during the exercise last weekend in Port Harcourt,  that a verification that would lead to the identification of genuine shop owners with a view to allocating their shops to them will be conducted.
He, however, regretted that some of the traders came with forged documents, while some who claimed to have bought their shops from the original owners, could not produce any documents to substantiate their claims.
“It is an open process, no bias, it is transparent”, the commissioner explained, stating that the government wants to be fair to everybody as far as the exercise was concerned.
Despite the protests by Traders of the Rumuwoji Market, our correspondent sighted documents of shop owners in the burnt market that showed that verification carried out on 24th-26th February, 2020, which revealed the 2332 original shop allocation documents, evidence of past payments and valid shop owners with their phone numbers.

Join The Conversation

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.