While the Nigerian Army is launching Operation Python Dance II in the South East zone, somewhere in that zone, precisely in Owerri, Imo State, Bulldozers have been dancing successfully, as pat of Governor Rochas Okorocha’s demolition and city beautification programme.
After the demolition of Ekeukwu Owerri, next was Naze mechanic village, others in line are New Market Owerri and now Umuororonjo Shopping plaza, Tetlow, Owerri. This is part of the urban renewal policy of the state government. It includes removal of Keke operators from the state capital and a total ban on street trading in the city.
The most recent area to be confronted by bulldozers is the popular Umuororonjo Shopping plaza, located in the heart of Tetlow, by old stadium, Owerri. Demolition of some parts of the plaza, by stadium lane began today, as builders leveled the shops to the ground while shop owners looked on.
Owners of shops in the plaza started packing out their wares yesterday, September 11, while demolition began today. People were removing doors and windows of the shops so they could be re-used in construction of new structures, instead leaving them to be destroyed by bulldozers. There was also free-for-all looting particularly carried out by unknown hoodlums in the area.
It was gathered that traders in the plaza were informed that the state government would be arriving with bulldozers to demolish the plaza so they decided to quietly move their goods so as not to run losses like traders in Ekeukwu Owerri market.
One of the challenges traders in the Shopping plaza had was vandalization of the shops by unidentified young men who claimed to be youth leaders in the area. As people were removing their goods from the stores, the young men were busy removing the doors and zincs of the shops, reselling them builders. The youths claimed that they were owners of the land and needed to take their doors and roof. Traders were left at the mercy of hoodlums, some of whom were collecting N1000 per shop from stranded shop owners.
There are mixed feelings in the city about the on-going demolitions. Some people believe that governor Rochas Okorocha will be appreciated in future for the way he is sanitizing the city by demolishing hide-outs of criminals illegal structures. Some other people are saying the governor did not provide alternatives for traders whose shops were destroyed that was why people are against the demolition exercise.