Business activities were for several hours on Wednesday disrupted at the popular Igbudu market in Warri, Delta State following a protest by the traders against alleged illegal collection of levies by the Market Master, who is said to be an official of Warri South Local Government.
Traders in their submission appealed to the Chairman of Warri South Local Government, Dr Michael Tidi to intervene on the matter as the situation had become worrisome and was fueling price increases.
Visitors to the market did not envisage the protest and had their hopes dashed when they found the shops locked and the traders outside in a protest.
There was heavy gridlock on the busy Warri/Sapele Road as the angry traders march to the Warri South Council secretariat chanting solidarity songs and demanding action from the local authorities.
For the traders, closing down the market to press their point was inevitable stressing that they were done with taking any further directives to pay to the Market Master what they alleged to be illegal levies.
According to them, the Market Master’s action was crippling economic activities adding that the levies were having untold hardship on them and their customers as the burden of the levies are passed on to the customers.
At the Warri South secretariat where they met the Council Chairman, Dr Tidi, the President-General of Igbudu Market Traders Association, IMTA, Comrade Oghenerume Kugbere, said the market executive is peace-loving and will do whatever is lawfully necessary to protect the interest of their members.
Comrade Kugbere alleged that the Market Master has been extorting traders at the market through the collection of several illegal levies and sought to know if the collections had the blessings of Warri South authorities.
He noted if the illegal levies were allowed the traders will have no choice but to pass the high cost of wares to customers, a situation bound to worsen the economic situation of their customers.
Comrade Kugbere stated that several efforts to prevail over the Market Master on the issue have been unsuccessful and appealed to the Chairman of Warri South Local Government to intervene so as to restore peace between the traders of Igbudu market and the Market Master.
For his part, the Chairman of Warri South Local Government, Dr Tidi commended the traders for the peaceful protest and promised to wade into the issue.
Efforts to get the Market Master to respond to the allegations were unsuccessful.
The market has however reopened for business activities at the time of this report.