Thursday, January 20, 2011

Adieu Missebo Market

The Missebo International market in Cotonou which constitutes the most populated and most economically viable single centre of trading activities in Benin republic has been reduced to rubbles. This is to enable the Benin authorities build a more dignifying shopping mall with parking facilities on the site. If the dream is realized, it will be the first ever one-stop shop in Benin republic.
This market which was established in 1972 and accommodates more than twenty-five thousand traders from across the West African sub-region is located in the heart of Cotonou municipality, and is the point from which most goods especially textiles and used clothing imported from abroad are distributed across Africa. Revenue generated from this market on a monthly basis runs into millions of dollars both to the Market Authority known as SOGEMA and to the individual traders. But it does appear that government’s decision to embark on this demolition is informed by the fact that little returns is trickling into its purse out of the huge taxation raked in by the market administrators.
According to the President of the Nigerian Community in the diaspora, there have been ongoing discussions between the Benin government market authorities and members of the Nigerian Retailers and Importers Associations respectively concerning relocating the market to a more conducive and accessible environment. However, the Benin government authorities have not been patient in allowing the traders to return from Christmas holidays before the demolition exercise and this has resulted in most people losing their goods while others will return to find that they have no place to put up to continue their business activities.
Some of the displaced traders could be seen from the footage standing aloof and helpless as they are being intimidated by the menacing presence of the arm-carrying policemen.
This incident is happening at a time when schools are just resuming for the second term and parents are at a loss as to where and how to find the money to feed their children let alone paying school fees.
“A hungry man, they say, is an angry man.”

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