The popular Robinson Plaza in Warri, Delta State was on Monday closed for business following an alleged hike in rent of shops by the management.
The plaza which is the biggest for sales of phones and their accessories in Delta State is owned by a renowned politician and candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the 2023 governorship election in Delta State, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi.
There was heavy gridlock on the ever-busy Deco road in Warri, where the plaza is situated following a protest by the shop owners and other traders over the increment of their store rent by over a hundred percent by the plaza’s management.
Up till 11am on Monday, eventually, all the shops were under lock and key as the traders refused to open up their shops for their daily businesses.
Customers who were caught up in the unannounced protest got stranded.
Motorists plying the ever-busy Deco road had a herculean task trying to navigate through other adjoining streets to get to their destinations.
Some of the traders who spoke anonymously lamented the continued increase in their rent by the management of the plaza despite the harsh economic situation in Nigeria.
They explained that just recently they were pre-informed by the management of the plaza of their plans to increase the rent by twenty percent which did not go down well with them only for them to receive another information that the rent has been increased from 292,000 per shop a year to 690,000.
This increase according to the traders is over a hundred percent.
The protesting shop owners noted that going by the recent increment they will only be doing business but using their profit to pay rent with nothing left to care for their families.
They also lamented the light situation in the plaza alleging that for over two and a half years now they have continued to pay light bills, waste and security to the plaza’s management without getting value for their money.
They noted that as young promising men and women, they decided to engage in the phone repair and sales business in order to make ends meet but, the harsh environment with which they do their business is actually frustrating.
They appealed to the State Government to come to their rescue by constructing a phone plaza in Warri just like the one in Lagos state.
When contacted, Olorogun Gbagi in a phone chat told NewsNet Nigeria that the plaza is privately owned and that the decision to increase the annual rent for stores is purely that of the management.