– Timber shed, other markets for demolition
There was confusion, chaos and uproar in Orlu last Tuesday 16th January 2018 as the Mayor of Orlu, Chief Emeka Osuorji and his men, unleashed mayhem, pain and agony on traders, residents and indigenes of Orlu town in Orlu LGA of Imo State, as all the shops described as shanties along Amaigbo Road by Owums avenue were demolished. Also pulled down by the rampaging caterpillars and bull dozers said to have been deployed by the Mayor, at the promptings of the Special Adviser to the Governor on New city and market development, Ichie Best Mbanaso, were the buildings in front of the timber market, along Owerri road, also in Orlu.
As at the time of filing this report, there are speculations that efforts are also being made to demolish the entire timber market and relocate it to the back of the building materials market where Ichie Mbanaso is said to personally own a cattle ranch.
There is pervasive anxiety and tension in the area now, as victims of the demolition exercise are left to their fate in the midst of the prevailing economic hardship.
Some of the traders who spoke to this reporter lamented that most of the shops in the building materials market, the electronics market, etc, where they are expected to relocate to are not vacant as they have all been allocated to the friends, associates and cronies of top government officials and their proxies. “We will either be stranded there or be compelled to rent the shops at exorbitant rates from officials and agents of government, whose only aim is to either extort money or subject us to hardship, suffering and penury”.
It will be recalled that lots of houses, shops, offices and markets had previously been demolished, in Owerri, Okigwe and Mbano, in the course of the state governments controversial, urban renewal programme which most people say has done more harm than good, and led to the tragic death of several people, including the 10 year old Somtochukwu Ibeanusi, who died in the course of the demolition of Eke Ukwu Owerri market on 26th August 2018, alongside other causalities.
A cross section of the people who commented on the recent demolition exercise, are worried and wondering why government is still demolishing structures in the guise of urban renewal when it claims there is no money to pay salaries and pensions of civil servants and retirees.
Besides, the sites of most of the demolished structures have remained fallow. “How can a government that claims to be interested in creating employment be destroying the citizens’ genuine means of livelihood? Is this not a way of incubating chaos, insecurity, increased crime rate and other attendant vices? This is obvious because people must survive and an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. This government is planting a time bomb that will eventually explode with negative ripple effects and consequences”.