The popular Mile-12 Market, located in Ketu area of Lagos is, no doubt, the hub of wholesale and retail food business in Nigeria. There is hardly any kind of food stuff, fruit and vegetable that is not available at the market. Indeed, it could be safely affirmed that the market is responsible for the supply of 80% of food consumed in Lagos state. It is, therefore, not surprising that it is one of the most patronized food markets in the country.
The Mile-12 market is about 30 years old and it is a melting point for traders from various tribes and ethnic groups in Nigeria. It is, thus, not unusual to find traders of Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, Kanuri, Ibibio, Fulani, Efik, Edo, Igala, Idoma and Ebira stock as well as others from diverse parts of the country at the market. This multi-ethnic group of traders warmly interacts with one another, thereby fostering unity and brotherliness among each other. This, indeed, is what makes the market thick.
Considering the volume of transactions done at the market on a daily basis and all through the year, it is not strange that the level of patronage has increased tremendously over the years. The phenomenal population growth in Lagos, which has almost doubled in the last decade, also has its implications on the growth and expansion of the market. This is because as Lagos population increases, so also is a corresponding increases in demand for food items and consequently the intensity of activities at the market. Consequently, trading and commercial activities at the market has continued to grow in leaps and bounds.
As it is typically the case with growth and expansion, the increased level of activities at the market has also come with several challenges. One of such is persistence and chaotic traffic gridlock along the axis. Those that either live or work at the Ketu-Ikorodu axis of the state would readily testify to the disorderly nature of traffic along route. No thanks to the unruly conduct of commercial bus drivers who disembark and pick up passengers indiscriminately around the Mile-12 market. The location of the market along the ever busy Ketu-Ikorodu road has, therefore, become a serious menace to free-flow of human and vehicular movement. This, on several occasions, has led to needless loss of manpower hours and in some instances loss of lives.
It is in order to address the chronic traffic chaos and other allied challenges occasioned by the Mile -12 Market location that the Lagos State Government recently announced the relocation of the market to Imota in the Ikorodu axis of the state. The need to relocate the market, according to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, was informed by the need to promote the interest of the state’s residents, especially in the area of safety and vehicular and human movement. It is strongly expected that the proposed relocation will eventually reduce the challenge of traffic congestion and chaos in the area. It should be stressed that the traffic in the area is also partly caused by the massive influx of trailers and other haulage vehicles bringing in food items into the market.
Another obvious benefit of the proposed relocation of the market is to be seen in terms of environmental preservation. In view of the huge volume of farms produce and other food items, some of them perishable in nature, that are traded in at the market, there is apparent disgusting repercussion on the environmental landscape of the area. Indeed, many environmental protection activists have for long been advocating for the relocation of the market as a result of the havoc being done to the environment. There had been fears of looming epidemics outbreak in the area.
The argument here is that a market of the magnitude of Mile-12 should not exist at heart of the city. It should not be present in such a densely populated area as Ketu. It should be stressed that when the market was sited at its present location, it used to be at the outskirt of the metropolis until it was overtook by rapid urbanization. Hence, the proper and most expedient thing to do, at this point in time, is to relocate the market in a remote part of the metropolis where it would have access to sufficient space for future growth and expansion. This is what planning is all about.
It is important to emphasize that the state government and traders at Mile-12 market are, indeed, on the same page in the resolve to relocate the market. It is a decision that was jointly reached by the various leadership organs of the market and the state government. It was not a unilateral decision on the part of the state government. This much was revealed by Governor Ambode when he stated that: “Relocating the market is in the interest of all Lagosians and the marketers themselves have agreed to move”.
It must equally be stated that the proposed relocation arrangement is equally meant to compliment the state government’s rice processing initiative. Governor Ambode has a strategic plan to upgrade the Imota rice mill to 10 metric tons per hour in order to meet consumption rate in the state. It will be recalled that the state government recently signed a MoU with Kebbi state government for regular supply paddy rice from the latter.
The ultimate aim of the initiative is to move Lagos State from a rice consuming state to a rice producing state. Consumers are majorly in Lagos and the intention is to expand the Eko rice project in order to help have a brand in Lagos that will be consumed by all for economic growth. To really drive the process, the Imota Rice Processing Mill would soon start running in order to give force to the MoU between Lagos and Kebbi.
The idea, therefore, is to have the Mile-12 market alongside the Imota Rice Processing Mill at the same location for optimal economic gains and logistical convenience. It is this kind of arrangement that fast tracks economic development in developed climes. It is what we need at this point in time for economic diversification.