Following the decision of the Bayelsa State COVID-19 Task Force to demolish the GSM village in Tombia Etegwe round about in Yenagoa, Igbo traders are now threatening to leave the state.
Lamenting the demolition of their stalls, they said they lost goods worth billions of naira following the exercise.
They called on the state government to open the borders, closed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, so they can go back to their villages since all their sources of income have been destroyed.
The security component of the Bayelsa State Covid-19 Task Force had in the early hours of Sunday began demolishing of all illegal structures at the Tombia market.
While the traders said they were not given proper notice of the action as most of them were on lockdown at home, the government claimed that prior notices were sent to them via radio and flyers.
Speaking in an emotional laddened voice, the Chairman of the GSM Market Traders Union, William Eze, lamented the manner the government on a holy Sunday morning, decided to destroyed a markets that provides over 2000 jobs at a time when families can hardly feed as result of the pandemic.
He said: “The truth of the matter is that as Chairman, I didn’t get any official notice. Yesterday, was Saturday, a lockdown day, so as a chairman, I was supposed to be in my house to respect the order of he Bayelsa State government.
“As chairman of the market I was supposed to be the first to get the notice but I didn’t get any until yesterday when my Chief Security Officer hinted me about it.
“Immediately I got the hint I called some government officials but they denied only for me to hear this morning that the markets and shops were being destroyed.
“Here is the only GSM phone village in Bayelsa, the governor would have looked for another place and build for us to rent. Since 2013, we have been writing to the state government that we need a permanent site because this place cannot contain us.
“We are more than 4,000 people here so this place cannot contain us. So government should have first built another place first, relocated us to that place and let us do our normal and genuine business.”
Also speaking, a shop owner, Samuel Awode, who said he lost millions of naira, lamented that the manner of the demolition of the shops at the phone market was sinister and wicked.
However, the South South Coordinator of the youth wing of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Chinedu Arthur-Ugwa, called for calm and appealed to government for the need to quickly address the traders to alleviate their suffering.
Reacting to the demolition, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Orientation and member Bayelsa State Task Force on Covid-19, Freston Akpor, said prior notice was given to the traders to vacate the markets.
He said though no written notice was given to the head of the traders association because of they are not recognized, but said flyers were sent to the markets prior to the demolition.