The Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola, on 15th, August, 2014 commissioned the first phase of the popular Tejuosho Market, gutted by fire seven years ago. The commissioning of the market is coming six years after the reconstruction of the market started under a 25-year Build, Operate and Transfer, BOT lease agreement.
Markets are a good source of income for the elite and the state. This is so in that the elites are more likely to pay taxes to the state than the poor and the elite are certain to make profit in a location like Tejuosho which over the years has become synonymous with trading just like Balogun market on the Island.
The reconstructed Tejuosho Market which now has over 4,000 shop space with lock up and K-Clamp shops, located along the Ojuelegba-Itire Road, Yaba cuts the look of an international shopping mall.
The refurbished market, which used to have 1,484 lockup, has been increased to 2,640. Facilities in the new market complex includes banking spaces, 8 lifts to enable goods, services and people move up, escalators for up and down movement of people, ramps designed to assist physically handicapped people to get into and out of the building and a crèche where nursing mothers can attend to and keep their children while they are trading.
Also a dedicated Fire Service Station within the complex with fire fighting systems built in the market to forestall any incident of fire disaster as well as a dedicated 800-vehicle capacity car-park unit.
However, there has been several conspiracy theories as to the destruction of the market by fire over seven years ago. Some have stated that there was pressure from the state on the street traders and the inside-marketers supported them because it was affecting their own sales since customers preferred to buy from the road rather than enter into the market. Some have said that in the past, if you had a shop inside Tejuosho, you needed a sales person to stand shoulder to shoulder with the traders outside the gates and marshal customers inside to buy from your shop rather than the illegal traders. Some of the initial problems faced by the traders led to a battle waged by the Market Traders’ association in Tejuosho in conjunction with the KAI Brigade, LASTMA, LAWMA, the Police and LG officials on street traders resulting in a compromise restricting the illegal street traders to some stalls just outside the market for which they paid state and LG officials.
When in 2007 a portion of the market was gutted by fire, the lagos state government decided to pull down the entire structure regardless of the hue and cry of the traders there that only the burnt portions should be rebuilt and other places left untouched but they were assuaged by assurances that they
would all retain their shops as soon as it went up again.
More so, the prices of the shops in the market makes it a source of concern to observers. At a price of N550, 000 per square metre (m2).,(For those who do not know, a square metre is equivalent to one average ceiling slate size and the smallest shop is about 9 (3X3)slates) a modest shop size would cost about N5 million.
The government however provided a mortgage option which means interested people can pay at their convenience. Furthermore, this brings up concern as to how the common man can afford to buy such spaces with little or no collateral. It is however the belief of the people that the interest of the majority would be served and that the market will not revert to the chaotic days of old.