This, government said, would not only make the market a place for buying and selling but also a tourist site to bring it in line with global standard.
Disclosing this in Aba, chairman of Abia Market Development Committee (AMDC), Mr. Solomon Nwaigwe said already, the committee, with the backing from the state government had engaged the services of a reputable foreign firm with the pre-requisite technological know how to re-model the market.
Nwigwe said the remodeling exercise would be in phases with the first involving about 10, 000 shops, adding that at the end, over 100, 000 shops would be involved.
He lamented the level of decay in the market and attributed cases of flooding in the area to awkward attitude of traders, whom he accused of erecting illegal structures on top of drainage system in the market, and indiscriminate dumping of refuse in waterways, causing water to overflow the drains and finding its way into traders’ shops.
He said part of the mandate given to the committee by the state government was to restore the master plan of the market and also to ensure that the market retains its international flare.
“It might interest you to know that we have carefully carried out proper checks at the market. And we discovered that the traders have built lockup shops on top of drainages in the market. They have also formed the habit of dumping refuse into the drainage whenever it is raining; thereby blocking the little space water current would have been passing through, resulting in frequent flooding of the market at the slightest drop of rains.
“They have also built lockup shops in a space that was originally meant for motor parks. In the past, trailers and heavy-duty trucks used to come into the market to offload their wares, but that is not the case today as traders have taken and converted every available space in and outside the market as shops.
“By the time we are through with what we are going to do in the market with some interested private investors, we will not only be restoring the master plan of the market, we will be creating more space and more shops for traders to acquire and that will end the rising case of street or roadside trading in the market as it is the obtainable at the moment,” Nwaigwe said.
He debunked the allegation that members of the committee were exploiting and collecting bribe from the traders and said that he was yet to receive such complain and assured legal shop owners in the market that they will get back their shop(s) after the exercise while illegal owners will forfeit ownership of such illegal and unapproved structures.
He disclosed that government had already awarded contract for the reconstruction of the dilapidated Ariaria International Market link road.
He said the reconstruction of the road which will be two-way carriage would start from the Enugu/Port Harcourt end of Faulks road and terminate on the Aba/Owerri road end of Brass Street.
He added that the contract was awarded to a reputable firm, SETRACO due to the importance Gov Okezie Ikpeazu’s administration attaches to the market.