After overcoming the refusal of traders, the Governor of Abia State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, has finally embarked on the reconstruction of Ariaria International Market, the focal point of commercial activities in Aba.
The market, which was built 46 years ago and attracts traders across West Africa and beyond, has been in a state of decay.
However, traders, fearful of losing their shops, had been resisting every move by government to give the market a face lift befitting of its international status.
But after the “final harmonisation meeting” between Governor Ikpeazu and representatives of the traders on Tuesday, the governor directed that work should start by midnight on Wednesday.
The Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, announced the breakthrough in a statement made available to the media in Umuahia, saying that the governor has given the traders every assurances that they would not lose their shops after the reconstruction.
According to him, the governor directed that the reconstruction work should start from A-Line, C-Line and Medical Line sections of the famous Ariaria International Market.
“The redevelopment work which will (involve) reconstruction of internal roads, new drains for proper storm water channelling and new ultra-modern shops with car parks, police and fire service posts in the first phase,” he said.
He further added that: “It also include works on A-Line and associated lock up shops, C-Line, Surgical Line, up to Enyimba gate, kitchen utensils shops and Medical Line.”
Okiyi said that the reconstruction work “is expected to be concluded with minimal disruptions to trading activities at the other lines”, meaning that commercial activities would continue at the other sections of the market.
He noted that the governor has given the traders every assurances of retaining their shops hence, he “further directs that all existing allottees affected by the redevelopment work must be returned to their shops as a matter of utmost priority before new off takers are considered”.
To ensure a seamless reconstruction of the market and implementation of all agreements, Governor Ikpeazu approved the setting up of a 24-member implementation and monitoring committee with traders constituting the majority.
The commissioner for information, who is also the chairman of the implementation committee, said that the reconstruction of the market would be completed and the new market would emerge by the first week of December 202I.
He said that the new Ariaria International Market would have the complements of modern amenities including fire station, police station, spacious motor park, banking facilities, smooth access roads free from floodings.
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