By Izunna Okafor, Awka
In keeping of its words, and in a decisive move to reclaim the defaced streets of Awka, the capital city of Anambra State, the state government agency, Awka Capital Territory Development Authority (ACTDA) has begun a massive enforcement operation against street traders who persisted in their activities despite repeated warnings by the Authority.
Recall that the ACTDA had, for past weeks, continued to issue direct and indirect notices and evacuation warnings to the street traders and shanty owners in Awka, whose activities, the agency said, were not only exposing road users to risks of road mishaps, but were also defacing the aesthetics of the capital city, especially as had been observed along the new roads being constructed by the government.
Howbeit, despite the warnings, it was observed that many of the defiant street traders remained more adamant in their activities, even after the ACTDA postponed the earlier proposed massive enforcement and clearance of those shanties and wares of the street traders, which was initially proposed to commence on Friday, December 15, 2023. Hence, the Agency, on Tuesday, stormed the streets of Awka on a massive enforcement operation against the defiant street traders and shanty owners.
Some of the areas so far stormed by the ACTDA enforcement team include parts of the popular Abakaliki Street (also known as the Club Road), Old INEC Road, Regina Caeli Road, Aroma Junction, Agụ Awka/Esther Obiakor Road, among others.
Speaking with this reporter, Izunna Okafor shortly after the exercise on Tuesday, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of ACTDA, Mr. Ossy Onuko, underscored the necessity of addressing the risks associated with street trading and its adverse effects on the city’s aesthetics.
He reiterated the extensive efforts made to forewarn street traders about the impending enforcement, which they ignored and continued to obstruct the motorways, expose road users to risks and deface the capital city.
According to him, with the commencement of the enforcement, some of the streets have witnessed a significant transformation, as the team diligently cleared some of the areas previously occupied by the ‘defiant’ street traders.
Mr. Onuko clarified and reiterated that the primary objective of the enforcement was not to witch-hunt anybody but to ensure that activities detrimental to the City’s development are curtailed. He urged traders to leverage designated market spaces and desist from turning main roads to market; even as he emphasized the importance of preserving the roads funded with taxpayers’ money.
According to the ACTDA Boss, the Agency’s resolute stance against street trading aligns with the vision of the Governor Chukwuma Soludo-led Anambra State Government, for a capital city with a befitting outlook and status comparable to developed world standards.
He added that the ongoing enforcement would serve as a stern deterrent to street traders who persist in defying regulations, while also reassuring the government’s commitment to maintaining order, aesthetics, and safety in Awka, even as the capital city takes a significant step toward realizing its envisioned status.
In their separate reactions, some of the victims whose shanties and wares were cleared acknowledged that they were truly warned some weeks ago, but, however gave different reasons why they found it difficult to relocate from where they’re operating.
For a grocery store owner operating along Regina Caeli Junction, simply identified as Chinyere, she lamented that she did not have enough capital to rent a shop, which, she said, was the reason she was operating a roadside shanty. While pleading for mercy, she also lamented that she bought all her goods on credit and does not have money to pay back the suppliers.
On his own part, a vulcanizer also operating along the Regina Caeli Junction beside the Everyday Supermarket, said he never expected that the enforcement would affect him, as, according to him, the nature of his work demands that he stays on the street for people who need his services to see and easily locate him.
It was gathered that the enforcement by the ACTDA would continue in other parts of the areas under the Capital Territory.