Cost of living: Traders storm Edo House of Assembly

Hundreds of traders on Monday stormed major streets in Benin City in protest against the unbridled hike in prices of foodstuffs in the state.

DAILY POST reports that the traders were members of the Traders’ Welfare Union of Nigeria, Edo State chapter, and Ekiosa Market Traders Association.

The traders, who also stormed the premises of the Edo State House of Assembly and the Secretariat of the State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), attributed the hike in prices of foodstuffs in markets across the state to the activities of market unions or associations.

The protesting traders also decried the abandonment of Ekiosa market by the state government after it was burnt down a few years ago.

At the House of Assembly, President of Traders’ Welfare Union of Nigeria, Lucky Orukpe, and Agho Anthony, Chairman of Ekiosa Market Traders Association, noted that if urgent actions are not taken to check the activities of leaders of market unions in the state, prices of foodstuffs will continue to increase.

The protesters were armed with placards bearing various inscriptions such as, “Evil unions in Edo markets are responsible for hikes in foodstuffs,” “Edo people say no to evil unions in our markets,” “We appeal to Edo State Government to build Ekiosa market,” and “Unions in Edo markets are causing pain to our people,” among others.

In a statement titled, “The activities of Union in the market are causing more harm than good on the people,” the president of the Traders’ Welfare Union of Nigeria called on the state government and the House of Assembly to put a total stop to illegal unions in markets in the state.

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Orukpe alleged that the market union leaders compel traders to join their union with exorbitant rates and items before selling their farm produce and foodstuffs.

He also alleged that any trader who refuses to join the union is conspired against and arrested by the market union leaders, and in most cases, their goods are seized by the union leaders.

On his part, Agho Anthony, Chairman of Ekiosa Market Traders Association, stated that over 1,000 traders in the market were displaced during the inferno that gutted the market a few years ago.

Anthony, who expressed disappointment over the alleged unfulfilled promises by the authorities of the Oredo Local Government to rebuild the market, appealed for the support of the lawmakers for the rebuilding of the market.

“The displaced traders are over a thousand, with their families unable to feed, pay school fees, and take care of their families in these very hard times facing our dear country.

“Speaker, sir, we want to express our disappointment over the unfulfilled promise made by the Oredo Local Government Council.

“We plead for your unflinching support in actualizing the rebuilding of our market, which will help the traders go about their daily businesses and in return generate revenue for our dear state.

“We want the government to grant the traders access to the fenced premises. We don’t mind using our umbrellas until the House of Assembly comes to our aid,” he added.

Responding, the Speaker of the House, Blessing Agbebaku, promised that the House would set up an ad-hoc committee to look into the complaints and petitions of the traders.

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God'swill Ofigo
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