Bayelsa state government on Saturday embarked on the demolition of illegal structures which have over the years defaced Yenagoa, the capital city.
The Bayelsa State Environmental Sanitation Board started the demolition on Saturday with bulldozers rolling over structures on the only highway that leads to the city.
Officials say the structures are not befitting of a state capital but the owners have are pleading for more time to move their wares.
The traders and other occupants of the structures had been given an order to vacate the area since January, but they did not obey it.
As the bulldozers rolled to rid the area of the structures, some of the occupants insisted that the exercise took them by surprise and that they were not informed.
“They did not inform me. I did not hear anything; I am just seeing this today,” one of the traders said.
“I don’t have a husband, I don’t have anything,” she said while others appeal for more time to enable them relocate.
“They should give us a little time so that we can put ourselves together and look for another place,” another trader said.
Some other traders were angry at the implication of the exercise.
A building materials dealer said: “Where will I drop all these goods?” he asked.
“At least, they should give us at least from now until next year. This notice was not the one issued to us from January. Look at my own store here, they didn’t write anything to me.”
The government officials, however, insisted that the order must be carried out since the notice to that effect had been given more than eight months ago.
Chairman of the Sanitation Authority, Mr Robert Enogha, said, “In January this year, we started marking (the structures). Then from April, we started giving abatement notices. Conscious of the fact that things are hard, (and) relocation is also very hard, we gave that grace and I think the grace is overwhelming us.
“This is September already – we have entered the ‘ember months’,” he said.
He added that the demolition was supposed to have started 14 days after marking the structures.
According to the demolition team, the structures are defacing the Bayelsa State capital and can as well be a hideout for criminals.