Allotees and tenants at the UTC shopping complex in Abuja are in tears and counting their losses as the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) began the demolition of the 30-year-old UTC complex, which it said is being carried out to give way to a better restructuring of the complex.
Mr. Hassan Ogbole, Deputy Director, Monitoring and Inspection, Department of Development Control, FCTA, said the structures were overdue for restructuring to fit into a shopping complex model required to grow Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
He said that the structures were defective and there was need to upgrade them to meet up with global business standards.
Ogbole said that provisions had been made for the traders and other occupants of the complex to enable easy reconstruction of the complex.
He added the several notices had been given to the occupants to enable them enough time to move out and allow the reconstruction to start.
“The place is in a state of disrepair, the place is no longer habitable for occupation and business activities.
“There is need to give way for a new development.
“The company handling the development has informed the Department of Development Control and we are here to enforce compliance.
“We have given enough notices for them to remove their goods, to enable us start the work,” he said.
Also speaking, Mr Peter Olumiji, Secretary, Command and Control, FCTA Department of Security, said demolishing the complex was needed to curtail security challenges in the FCT.
He added that aside the need to restructure the complex, there was need to curtail criminal activities prevalent in the area, such as thuggery and faking of official documents.
A trader in the complex, Mr Samuel Onuchukwu, said the traders and other occupants of the complex were worried about the development because the temporary site provided for them was not secured for business activities.
He said that many of the traders were yet to remove their goods and properties from the complex as the demolition took them unaware.
“We woke up early this Saturday morning to learn that the whole UTC area had been barricaded and demolition ongoing, with people’s personal goods still trapped inside.
“This is really unfair,” he said.
Another trader, Mrs Rosemary Clement, said that though notice had been given to them but they did not act on it because the matter was still in court.
“I sell award plaques here for over 12 years and this is what I have been using to train my kids in school, with this development, I don’t even know where to start from,” she said.
Also, Mr Uche Paul, a trader said he had prepared himself to vacate the complex before now, but the developers were yet to assign a new place for him at the temporary site.
“We have been waiting for the relocation for months and some of us had paid for it.
“So while waiting for them to assign our slot to us, we continued our businesses here pending when they finish all agreement with our executive members,” he added.