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Over 4,000 traders displaced as Anambra Government demolishes 2,000 shops in Onitsha

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BY SUNNY A. DAVID, AWKA

Over 4,000 sand miners and traders are affected in the demolition of at least 2300 shops along Niger Street, Fegge, Onitsha South Local Government Area of Anambra State by the State Government.

Multi-million naira worth of equipment and goods were damaged in the exercise.

The shops located by the bank of the River Niger, were mostly owned by some members of Sand Miners Association of Anambra State, who use them as equipment and operation offices, while some are occupied by petty traders who services them.

The Chairman of Onitsha South Local Government Area, Chief Emeka Orji, who supervised the demolition told newsmen and the victims that he was acting on the orders of Governor Chukwuma Soludo to carry out the demolition.

When our correspondent visited the scene, many affected victims were seen trying to salvage some of their equipment and goods, as according to them, there was no prior information about the demolition.

One of the victims of the demolition Mrs Ekeoma Okafor, alleged that the demolition exercise was vindictive one targeted at some people who refused to settle some government officials because they are paying appropriate taxes and levies to the government and does not want to cut cornets or pay to illegal revenue collector or government agents who short change the state.

Other displaced victims described the exercise as wicked, wondering why a government will embark on such exercise this period Nigerians are suffering, without allowing people to remove their machines and goods.

The Manager of Lake Petroleum Limited, one of the owners of sand beaches and shops, Chief Okechukwu Okoye, said that they lost over 130 shops and equipment worth millions of naira, saying that there was no prior information over the demolition.

According to him, “we are law abiding in everything we are doing here, we are properly licenses and registered with Federal Ministry of Environment and NIWA, we pay all the necessary taxes and levies to NIWA and Anambra State government.

“We have even paid the necessary 2025 levies and taxes to Anambra State government and we don’t have any problem with NIWA, so we don’t know the reason for the demolition of our offices.

When contacted last week when information of the demolition was received, the NIWA Area Manager, Comrade Suleiman Nicholas, dismissed it, saying that government cannot take action on NIWA Right of Way without informing the agency.

According to him, “if there is any illegal structure on NIWA Right of Way, and it is also affecting or obstructing movement of the general public, government will write us and we will take action against any of our customers involved, right now there is no complain from government about such obstruction and therefore, there is no reason for such demolition to take place.”

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