Traders in Ochanja Central Market, Onitsha, Anambra State, have protested the alleged illegal construction of shops in the central section of the market.
The protesters barricaded the headquarters of the State Physical Planning Board and the entrance of the Government House in Awka, as they displayed placards with various inscriptions.
Some of the placards read: “Save our lives now at Ochanja Central Market,” Gov. Willie Obiano; Physical Planning Board why are you people keeping quiet? and “Ochanja Central Market is not for sale.”
Addressing newsmen, the leader of the protesters, Chief Gabriel Okwuneme, accused the market leadership of conniving with some government agents to construct additional shops on top of old and weak buildings in the area.
Okwuneme appealed to Gov. Willie Obiano to intervene to avert a building collapse capable of taking lives and properties in the market.
He called for the immediate suspension of the construction work and the arrest of those behind the act.
“We are in Awka to protest the illegal construction of shops at Ochanja Central Market. The market has only one floor and the leadership is trying to build shops on its top.
“We are calling on the state government to order the suspension of the construction work because it poses a serious threat to our lives as well as our means of livelihood,” he said.
Reacting, Mr Chike Maduekwe, Managing Director, Physical Planning Board, appealed for calm while assuring the protesters that their complaints would be attended to.
“We will meet with all concerned stakeholders, including the traders next week, to resolve the matter,” Maduekwe said.