There was massive destruction of properties including stores, makeshift buildings and over 100 containers used by traders at Etim Edem Motor park in Calabar, Cross River State capital.
The destruction, DAILY POST gathered took place in the early hours of Sunday. The destruction and demolition, according to eye witness took the owners of the shops unaware.
Speaking with our Correspondent, some of the owners of the shops who were seen crying uncontrollably lamented the loss they have incurred especially as some of them have emptied their account for Christmas.
“We came back a few days to start a new life when we came and met this destruction and demolitions. We least expected it. Some of the owners of the shops, stores and containers are either in the church or in their houses.
“They are not aware of these demolition and destruction. How will they feel when they come back and see their means of earning income and revenue destroyed, especially now that some of them have just come back from villages and school is about to open, it very sad” they separately stated.
Supervising the demolition and destruction, the State Commissioner for Environment, Mr Mfon Bassey, who led staff of the ministry on the demolition exercise said the move was to create sanity within the park.
He explained that the master designed of the premises was meant to be a motor park where intending travellers come in and board vehicles to different destinations.
“I still recall in those days, when people used to load from Etim-Edem park to Onitsha, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Lagos, Anambra and others states of the federation.
“But late in 2007, some people decided to constitute nuisance into the park and the overflowing effect was that we started having traffic congestion within major roads in Calabar metropolis.
“People who were meant to be loading from the park now decided to create illegal parks along the road, causing traffic congestion.
“What we are doing is trying to bring solution to the traffic congestion in the city. As you can see, the park has been cleared and all commercial vehicles loading along the road will now return to the park because they will have no excuse again.
“We issued the traders who were using the containers sufficient notice to relocate and more so, we did sensitisation campaign informing them on the planned demolition”, he said.
The Commissioner, however, pointed out some shops that were still empty and not occupied by any trader, lamenting that some of the traders decided to abandon them for no reason and occupy the driveway within the park
He said that the ministry was working with relevant agencies with a view to decongest traffic on the road and allow for free vehicular movements.
Hon. Essien Ayi, Member representing Calabar South/Akpabuyo/Bakassi Federal Constituency in the National Assembly, who also monitored the demolition, said the right thing has been done.
Ayi said the illegal structures were erected through unauthorized process and the revenue collected thereafter was shared among a few individuals instead of returning the same to the local government coffers.
He lamented that the park, which used to be one of the highest revenue generating points in Calabar South, have been mismanaged over the years.
He told journalists that the park was commissioned during his tenure as local government Chairman of Calabar South, adding that it was supposed to be a motor park and not a market.
He advised the traders to take advantage of the shop within the park and leave the vehicle premises for transportation business to thrive.
Also, Deputy Speaker of Cross River House of Assembly, Hon. Joseph Bassey, lauded the state government for taking the giant step, adding that as a young man, he usually travel to other parts of the country through the Etim-Edem park.
He also emphasised that the demolition will decongest traffic along the metropolis and guarantee the safety of intending passengers.
Also speaking, Mr Bassey Efiom, Head of Local Government Administration, Calabar South, told journalists that he was impressed with the development.
Efiom said that the local government was collaborating with the Ministry of Environment to bring back sanity to the park and reduce illegal motor parks within the metropolis.
Mr Eyo Ekpenyong, Vice Chairman of the park, also expressed satisfaction with the development, saying that successive governments had tried in the past to demolish the structures but were stopped by some individuals.
Ekpenyong commended the Commissioner for carrying out the demolition, adding that the main aim of building the park was for transportation purposes, not for traders to occupy all the loading spaces.
He alleged that the former chairman of the park illegally quit some transport companies from the part and allocated the space to traders for businesses.