More than 100 illegal shops and containers erected inside the popular Etim-Edem park in Calabar, Cross River State, were early Sunday morning, on the orders of the state government, brought down by officials of the state Ministry of Environment.
State Commissioner for Environment, Mr Mfon Bassey, present at the demolition exercise, affirmed that the action was meant to restore order to a park which has over the years suffered illegal distortions to her master plan.
He decried the situation where expansive parts of the park, designated for parking, had been illegally converted into shopping areas with unscrupulous persons occupying such areas, forcing the creating on alternative parks outside the park.
These illegal alternative parks, he further maintained, were now responsible for creating human and vehicular obstructions on several major roads in the city. “What we are doing is trying to bring solution to the traffic congestion in the city. As you can see, the park has been cleared and all commercial vehicles loading along the road will now return to the park because they will have no excuse again”, he said.
Reacting to the demolition, Essien Ayi, who represents Calabar South/Akpabuyo/Bakassi Federal Constituency in the National Assembly, at one time, Chairman of Calabar South Local Government Area, came clear that government was right to have gone through with this demolition. He lamented that Etim Edem park, which used to be one of the highest revenue generating points in Calabar South, has been mismanaged over the years and revenue realized appropriated by a few individuals with the government being the loser. “This place was commissioned as a motor park when I was council chairman and not a market, let these people please go and take up the empty stalls there and leave the parking area for what it was meant for”, he concluded.
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