The Bayelsa State Environmental Sanitation Authority has shut down an illegal market being operated along the Isaac Boro express in Yenagoa, the state capital.
It took a combined effort of the enforcement team (made up of over fifty sanitation officers) and police men to bring down various structures at the new NIIT Park and market during the monthly sanitation exercise.
The operators of the illegal market had mobilized armed youths to attack the sanitation enforcement team, but they were overwhelmed by security operatives.
An owner of a structure affected by the raid, Mr. Bishop Anslem, who had initially resisted the closing of the illegal market, claimed that the Sanitation Authority gave operators approval to operate at the site. He has expressed worry at the Authority’s latest action.
Mr. Anslem, who was later arrested alongside others, claims the demolition was more of a political witch hunt against the management of NIIT.
Some of the shop owners say they were not given enough notice, saying they have lost goods worth millions of naira.
In an interview, the Chairman of the State Environmental Sanitation Authority, Chief Robert Enogha, said the Authority approved the site for a motor park, and that allocating stalls to operate a market was illegal.
The sanitation Chairman, who said prior notice was given to market operators to remove their goods, also said the Authority lacked the power to give approval for the operation of markets in the state.
“They had applied for a park and mini-market but not the full-fledged market they were developing along the express. We don’t even have the powers to approve operation of a market. It is the Ministry of Commerce or Yenagoa LGA that has such powers. When we saw what they were doing, we asked them to stop. A very senior citizen of this state was the one involved and he claimed to have spoken to the Governor, whom he said would call me. It is within our powers to grant approval and cancel it. We had to write management of NIIT to cancel the approval. But if they do the right thing, approval for a park still stand”, Enogha said.
He assured that the sanitation authority would continue to operate within the law to ensure a safe and healthy environment.