BENIN CITY – Edo State government yesterday made good its promise to sanitize the Oba Ovoranmwen Square, Benin City and its adjoining Streets of Mission Road, Ibiwe, Oba Market Road and Lagos Street which were recently noted for their chaotic human and vehicular movement as all illegal structures were removed and cleared.
The sanitization project code named “Project Clean Up Edo”, headed by the Secretary to State Government (SSG), Barr. Osarodion Ogie began at midnight on Sunday with the demolition of make shift structures. At about 10 a.m. yesterday, when the government team arrived, everybody, traders especially, scampered to salvage their goods.
The move, it was gathered, is targeted at ridding the area of street hawking, trading on walkways, street trading and operations of illegal motor parks in various guise, for the purpose of ensuring free flow of human and vehicular movement.
With yesterdays exercise, the usual gridlock which had recently become a common feature in the area disappeared within 30 minutes of commencement of the operation.
Speaking with newsmen, Barr. Ogie said the Godwin Obaseki led administration will sustain the clean up of Edo state to restore sanity, law and order.
He said the task to clean up the State is a priority in line with the administration’s resolve to ensure Edo State is one of the cleanest in the country.
According to him, street and walkway trading have become a cause for concern as major markets in the state are devoid of traders as they all prefer to sell and trade on the streets while most stores in the markets are empty.
“As I speak with you, Edo State government has engaged four contractors to clean up Oba market, fix steel doors in the market to replace all the wooden doors so as to prevent fire.
“The government has also had discussions with the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) to ensure steady power supply in the market,” he added.
He said the effort is to ensure that the market is conducive for traders and also to encourage street traders to enter the market instead of trading on the streets.
He added that government has spent millions of naira and people are destroying the good works of the government while government will not fold its hands to watch.
“The exercise is a continuous one; we started from Ring Road and we will spread to other areas as we progress in the task of keeping the city clean.
“The biggest problem we have is the fear to start, but this government is bold, courageous and has the will power to start and we have started.
“This exercise is in line with our administration’s objectives to ensure security for the people of the state.
“We are ready to deal with the cabal that promotes this illegality; we have started the clean up exercise and will continue unstopped.
“The exercise will continue all round the state as this phase is the starting point to send signal to other areas,” he said.
Barr. Ogie said Ring road is the strong hold and the move by the government to clear the area is to ensure law and order.
“The traffic around Ring road is unacceptable to this government, the menace has been on for over ten years, but this government; is determined to fix it,” he said.
A trader identified as Mrs. Gloria who commended the governor for a good job called on government to help them reduce the prices of renting stores in the market as they (traders) are ready to comply with the new policies of government on cleaning Edo State.
Another trader, Henry Okere praised the courage and determination of the government to keep the state clean, saying the youths are behind Obaseki, but however called on the government to find alternatives for the displaced traders as trading is their livelihood.
For Ezuwa Festus, the intention of the government is not a bad one, saying government should extend this to other markets in the state and ensure law and order is restored.
Earlier, the state government held several meetings with traders, landlords, shop owners, market leaders and stakeholders on modalities to clear traders from walkways and the streets around the King square in order to ease traffic around the area in accordance with the policy of the Edo Clean Up Project.
Also speaking with The Nigerian OBSERVER, Comrade Tony Kabaka Adun, the Chief Executive Officer of Akugbe Ventures, a former revenue collecting agent to the state government aligned with the administration’s resolve to clean up the state so as to make the state attractive to investors and tourists.
Comrade Kabaka, however, advised traders and bus drivers to cooperate with the state government so as to achieve a clean and attractive Edo State.
Also, a landlady along Lagos Street, Ambassador Omuwa Elegon (aka Mama Lagos) commended the Edo State Government for taking a bold step towards the actualization of a clean and attractive Edo State.
According to her, I support the government on this movement, to tidy up the whole road around Lagos Street and environs, despite the fact that peoples finances might be affected indirectly, but, wealth without health is not worth it; so, I support this action,” she said.
Also, a trader who gave his name as John Ken applauded the action of the Edo State Government but, argued that the Oba market cannot accommodate all traders coupled with the poor ventilation in the market.
He added that although the immediate past administration took the same action it was not sustained, stressing that the present administration needs to provide a suitable market environment so as to ensure effectiveness of the exercise.
However, a trader who gave her name as Mrs. Juliet James said she is not against the cleaning up exercise but noted that there should be alternative place for trading.
A Benin High Chief and the Ayobahan of Benin, Chief John Osamede Adun commended the state Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki for bringing sanity to the Ring Road/ Kings square axis of the state capital.
In a chat with The Nigerian OBSERVER, he said that the action of the state government was long overdue, in view of the menace of street trading, especially on walk ways, which according to him cost billions of naira to construct. He said that the ban and subsequent enforcement would create a conducive atmosphere in the areas.