The Lagos State Government has said there is no going back on the redevelopment of the N6.9 billion Alade Market in Ikeja, Lagos into a mega shopping mall.
Contract for the redevelopment of the market was granted to Master Reality International Concepts Limited which is investing N6.9 billion on the project under 30 years concession under the Built Own and Transfer, BOT, basis, but traders in the market have been frustrating the project.
On Sunday morning, the concessionaire forcibly deployed its men by shutting down the market and took possession to begin the redevelopment in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, that was signed in 2010.
The intervention of the Executive Secretary of Ikeja Local Government, Adekunle Adeokun led to the re-opening of the market as a 15-man committee had been set up to fashion out the relocation of the traders to a new market which has been built for them besides Alade Market.
Adeokun, who spoke on behalf of the state government and the council which approved the redevelopment of the market said the redevelopment of the market into a mega mall was not negotiable as the traders must relocated soonest to pave way for the contractor to move to site to redevelop the market.
He said most of the traders kicking against the project were not the original shop owners and that the contractor had invested money on the project since five years ago and that since the money must be paid back, the project must be completed on time.
Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Masters Reality International Concepts Limited, Lai Omotola at a press conference on Sunday in Maryland, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria said the company came to take possession of the property as early as 6.00am on Sunday in a bid to start redevelopment since the traders had been frustrating the project for long.
“On August 12, 2010, we signed a concession with Ikeja Local Government under BOT to redevelop Alade Market into a mega mall to meet the standard of a mega city. For the past five years, we have been meeting with the marketers to move them to another place we have built for them and they have refused to move,” he said.
According to him, with the recent plan by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN to publish the names of debtors in the nation, there was need to move to site to complete the project as the company’s cash-flow had been affected the lender banks becoming impatient to get their money back.
Omotola said a foreign cash-inflow of $50 million was obtained in 2013 with the exchange rate then pegged at N175 to a dollar, but lamented that the exchange rate had skyrocketed to N195 to a dollar which had grossly affected the project, adding that “it gives us a concern if the dollar is not stable in the market.”
“All attempt for the market people to be reasonable with us proved abortive and it has come to a stage where our nobility is turning into stupidity. We came on ground today to work and the Executive Secretary called us step down and go into a roundtable. At the meeting at the council, attended by the parties involved, it was agreed that a committee be set up with five people each from the council, traders and the contractor.
“The concern of the developer is that the marketers must sign an agreement that once the things needed are in place, they will move to the place built for them which already has 194 shops. We are frustrated and tired. We need the help of government to accelerate this project because as time goes on, we are paying big interest. This project is about N6.9 billion. The place we are relocating them is part of the investment we have made,” he stated.
Omotola added that if all things went on as planned, the developer would complete the project between 18 and 24 months, adding that the company had the plan to build another 130 shops aside the 194 already built to move the traders to pave way for the project.