Petty traders at Akpan Andem market are counting their losses as the management of the market move against them, destroying their wares and allegedly inflicting beatings on them. The market women affected are mostly those allotted spaces where they usually display their wares on their tables. They allege that they were duly allocated the spaces where they carry out their trade, but said the management under the leadership of Nse Uboh, just decided to drive them out of the places they had paid for.
According to one of the women, Mrs. Emilia Peters, while narrating the ordeals of the affected traders said that they were officially allocated the spaces by officials of Uyo local government area, only for the market management to turn round and demand that they vacate the place.
“We were officially allocated those spaces, we paid various sums of money to the local government and now they have scattered our wares, beaten us up and daily harassing us. We dont know what to do and this is the only place I manage to feed my family. This life is just too hard for the poor,” she lamented.
Another trader, Mrs. Christiana Nkanang, while telling her story to National Newstrack said, “This bad treatment started since March this year. They keep destroying our market and continuously beat us up. We cannot give up the spaces. We paid for them and they have since been collecting tickets, which is apart from the official allocation money we all paid. These people are heartless. Where do they think I should go to be able to feed? I have children and they are all in schools. How do I pay their school fees? I want government to rescue us from the wickedness of this market management.”
“They came the other day and carted away my goods. I had just returned from the bush market, where I spent my last kobo to buy things. As I just finished arranging my table they came. They packed all the things I displayed and even those still inside the bad and went away. I cried and cried and nobody was ready to listen to me. God will punish these wicked people”, one of the women lamented to our reporter.
Some of the affected traders have consulted a lawyer to help them enforce the agreement they have with Uyo local government area, who allocated the spaces to them. Their lawyer, Mr. Edwin Essien of Ekere Ebong Chambers, while speaking with this paper, said that his clients have already written to the Chairman of Uyo local government area on the issue and expressed optimism that wise counsel would eventually prevail and the affected traders be reinstated back to their allotted spaces and paid adequate compensation for their losses.
“We shall explore all legal means within our powers to obtain justice for these poor women. Government is supposed to make life easier for the citizens and when this type of thing happens, you begin to wonder what the responsibilities of government should be”, Mr. Essien explained.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of Akpan Andem Market management committee, Mr. Nse Uboh in a telephone conversation with this paper, said that the women had no case as they had been warned to cease displaying their wares along the roads. He noted that the management committee was only obeying the orders of government not to allow street trading around the market.
Reminded that the women were officially allocated the spaces and made to pay for them, Mr. Uboh said, “The problem of the market is that there is a multiplicity of committees that carry out different functions in the market, but I remain the overall Chairman, so I take responsibility. Since I came into the management of this market, I have tried to ensure peace and better treatment of traders. Before now the place was a hostile place for traders who battle daily with cultists, area boys and miscreants. But I battled them and was able to restore sanity because I am not a cultist. When the Chairman of Uyo Local Government Area was suspended, the acting chairman asked me to go. Since I came back, I am faced with situations I had battled before. To return to normalcy is such a task. But I can assure you that if you come to the market you will better understand what I am saying. There is no way we can allow people to leave the stalls and cluster along the roads”.