Occupants asked to vacate Agbowo shopping complex, Ibadan, on Monday, protested the continued closure of their shops while the expected renovation of the complex was yet to commence.
Bandying placards inside state secretariat, Ibadan, the shop owners bemoaned the failure of the contractors to begin the renovation six weeks after they were asked to leave the complex.
Their plea, according to some shop owners like Mr Tade Gbenga, Mr Abayomi Ajilore, Mrs Mojisola Badmus, is for them to be allowed to continue their businesses pending when the contractors will move to site.
“For over six weeks, government has ordered its officials to close down the shopping complex. This is not the best time for asking us to shut down our businesses especially considering the current hard times in the economy.”
“We are not opposed the plan of government to renovate the complex. But inasmuch as the contractors are yet to start the renovation job, as agreed, we should still be allowed to do our businesses.”
“We have about 100 shops there and thousands of people are engaged in several businesses. Times are hard and this has affected several families. Many of us are loitering around the complex and we do not know the way forward. They asked us to suspend payment but we are willing to pay whatever dues to the state Ministry of Lands and Housing,” Gbenga said.
Speaking, Mr Abayomi Ajilore, said, “The governor should come to our aid. Even when the shops are opened, we find it difficult to feed our families. Now that the shops have been shut down for the past three weeks, no business is going on there.”
“The place is already dominated by hoodlums, and if it remains locked up, it might turn out to a dangerous hideout. We need money to celebrate the festive period with our families. Our goods are still in our shops, we do not have anywhere to go. When the renovation starts, we will leave. We are not against the renovation.”
Mrs Mojisola Badmus said, “Our shops have been locked up for over a month. We have had meetings with the government. We ask the governor to intervene in this matter. We are just roaming about. Civil defence officers have sealed the place.
“The government promised to hand us over to the contractors but we are yet to see those contractors to renovate the place. We want government to open up the shops for us to celebrate this festive season.”
“We want government to consider the pain that we are passing through. We appeal to them in the name of God to open up the place for us to joyfully celebrate Christmas. We can’t pay our children’s school fees because we are not allowed to open our shops. We can’t oblige our customers who have goods in our shops and can’t open our shops. We can’t do anything. We beg government to assist us.”
It would be recalled that on October 21, 2016, occupants of the complex had been given two months ultimatum to evacuate for renovation works to commence following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the state government and Agbowo Mall Infrastructure Development Company Limited.
The project according to Secretary to the state government, Mr Olalekan Alli was targeted at giving a complex a befitting outlook with ultra-modern facilities that meet international standards.
Alli had then assured the former occupants that the contractors would give them a priority when the complex was ready for reallocation.
The contractors had then said that the rehabilitation of the entire complex to the tune of N8 billion would take about 30 months.