By Gabriel Oghenekaro,
Travellers plying the East-West road were on Monday, held down as protesting market women barricaded the Ughelli section of the road, Ughelli North Local Government area, causing many commuters to be stranded.
The resilient women who defied heavy security presence which includes the Military and police, deployed by the Local Government Chairman, Godwin Adode, to disperse them, vowed to stay put until their demands are attended to by Council Chairman and the Ovie of Ughelli, Wilson Ojarkovo, Oharisi III.
Some of the women who spoke to journalists said they have to resort to protest to draw the attention of the state and federal government to the alleged injustice and allege extortion by the Council Chairman, the King and his kinsmen.
A trader, Mrs Rose Edede said, “they said none of us should come to the market to sell, that anybody that is caught selling they are going to seize the item and take it to the police station, they said all of us should relocate to Okogbe road, that they have provided a space for us there. Behold, when we got there, the place was a swamp, for you to do anything there you will have to fill it which we don’t have the money for because we are petty traders.
“When some of us went there, they asked them to pay N25000 for just a very small portion that can contain only one table. If you have more than one table you will pay for two slots which is N50,000 and which is outside the money you will spend to fill the place.
“Secondly we realize that the land belongs to Dr. Chris Oharisi the brother of the Ovie of Ughelli and that they are just trying to use us to fill the place and repair it afterwards they will chase us away.
“We want the state government and the Federal government to come to our aid because it is like the king and Tete (Council Chairman) wants to kill us. We are petty traders, some of us don’t have husbands, some of us are the ones feeding our families and now they want to stop us from trading. We are appealing to the state government to open the Ughelli/Ogor Modern market for us so that we can go there and sell.”
Some of the travellers lamented the situation, calling on relevant authorities to intervene and restore normal vehicular movement on the road.
Narrating his ordeal, Mr Taofeek, travelling from Lagos to Port Harcourt said, “I have been here for over two hours, I’m coming from Lagos and going to Port Harcourt. They told us the women are protesting for their rights. We are appealing to the relevant authorities to intervene so that we can continue our journey. I am supposed to be in Port Harcourt by 12 pm and now I am still here.”
The Secretary to Ughelli North Local Government Council, Hon. Felix Oderohwo appealed to the women to allow the traffic to flow, promising that all their grievances would be properly addressed.
As at press time the protesting women have refused to open the road for vehicular movements despite appeals from the council secretary and security agents.