By Idris Olukoya
Epe (Lagos State) – Fish traders at the popular Olowu fish market in Epe, Lagos State, on Monday decried the poor condition of facilities at the market, saying that it had become unsafe for their business activities.
Mrs Folashade Ojikutu, the market’s women leader (Iyaoloja), told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the market has not been upgraded since it was built by the then Gov. Lateef Jakande in 1990.
She said that the dilapidated nature of the buildings have caused a lot of havoc and losses to traders at the market.
“We have a record of about 15 traders that have been worse hit by the dilapidated buildings, which have negatively affected their business activities.
“Particularly during the raining season, when there are heavy rainstorms, the walls of the shops usually give way and erosion sweeps away our fish.
“More so, the top soil at the market also becomes slippery during the rains, and leaking roofs cause rain water to damage our fish, with losses running into thousands of naira.
“The general decay of facilities at the market is causing shop owners and the fish traders a lot of losses,’’ she said.
NAN reports that the market was relocated to its present site in 1990, from its former location near the Marine Police Station in the town.
Ojikutu lamented the present condition of the market, adding that it has lost its original look.
“The rehabilitation of the market’s facilities is more than what the fish traders can handle.
“For this reason, we are calling on the Lagos State Government to come to our aid before the situation gets out of hand.
“The market used to be a popular site that attracted several foreign and local visitors in the past. But now, its patronage has reduced considerably.
“The present condition of the market is not appealing and we plead with both the state and the local governments for its urgent upgrading.
She appeals to Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode to take the advantage of the ongoing infrastructural development in the state to upgrade the market to international standard.
“The fish market is the only major functional business that is still in existence in the community as of today.
“It is a major revenue source for the majority of the people in the community.
“The market accommodates thousands of indigenes and non-indigenes in the fishing business,’’ she said.
According to Mrs Ojikutu, the present location of the market is the commercial hub for fish business/trading in Lagos State.
She noted that visitors come from various part of the country to buy and sell fish at the market.
“People come from Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Ogun and other parts of the country. Hundreds of thousands of fishes are usually sold at the market daily.
“Government also collects a lot of taxes at the market.
“The market is a meeting point where traders buy and sell fish to the larger populace.
“There is no other fish market that is as popular as the Oluwo market in Lagos State and it has existed over the years,’’ she said.
Ojikutu added that although there were about 200 stalls at the market, over 50 of them were no longer in good condition.