Commercial activities were paralysed for several hours on Wednesday at the popular Igbudu market in Warri, Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State as traders embarked on a peaceful rally in protest against alleged extortion by the market administrator popularly called market master.
The protesters accused the market master, said to be an official of Warri South Local Government Council, of allegedly collecting illegal levies from the traders.
They alleged that the market master’s action has been crippling their economic activities and causing untold hardship on them and their customers, as the burden of the levies are passed on to the customers.
While calling on the Chairman of Warri South Local Government, Dr Michael Tidi, to intervene urgently in the matter which they described as worrisome, the leadership of the protesting traders attributed the rampant price increases partly to the illicit activities of the market master.
Many visitors to the market were visibly disappointed as the shops and stalls were under lock and key while the traders were outside protesting.
The protest also resulted in heavy gridlock on the ever busy Warri/Sapele Road as the angry traders marched to the secretariat of Warri South Local Government Council chanting solidarity songs, and demanding urgent intervention of the local government authorities.
At the Warri South secretariat where they met the Council Chairman, Dr Tidi, the President-General of Igbudu Market Traders Association, Oghenerume 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 the Local Government administration.
He noted that if the illegal levies were allowed, the traders will have no choice but to pass the high cost of wares to customers, a situation that is bound to worsen the economic situation for the 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.
Responding, the Council Chairman commended the traders for the peaceful protest and promised to wade into the issue.
The Local Government Council boss appealed to the aggrieved traders to return to their duty posts whilst their complaints were being addressed.
However, the embattled market master could not be reached to respond to the allegations as of the time of filing this report.