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Abia State Government Should Not Pay Lip Service To The Issues Of Ariaria International Market, Aba.


Ariaria International Market, harnessing the economic potential of the sleeping giant of Abia state.

Abia State Government Should Not Pay Lip Service To The Issues Of Ariaria International Market, Aba.

By Kenneth Paul.

The notion of the Ariaria International Market as a flooded, stingingly rotten, and muddy water slum as seen evident by the social media images that flooded the internet has only added more salt to injury in a market so barely trying to stay afloat in a post Covid Nigeria.  To a state renowned as God’s own state, you will surely agree that it is of God’s grace that the residents and visitors to the state are not hospitalized after immersing themselves in such contaminated waters. The images being portrayed by the media is barely a reflection of the perennial issues that have amounted to massive loss of finances and the routine sufferings to do business in a market that is widely revered as the biggest in eastern Nigeria with the capabilities of seeing up to 53 billion nairas worth of trade in a month. Many in the government of Abia state has usually attributed the underdevelopment of the state infrastructure to the paucity of funds, yet no one seems to take seriously the fact that the many markets in the states can and would be able to remedy the dwindling internally generated revenue (IGR) of the state.

With a total collapse of infrastructure in and within the market and an almost non-existent drainage system flooding has become a norm for people who do business in the market, while I can understand the zeal of the traders to swim through the dirty water to get to there respective shops for business, I doubt the possibility of a customer having to wade through the water to purchase goods, this single reason can attest to why the patronage and sales of goods in the market have been on a record low, when you add the fact that logistics services are almost non-existent in the market, actually it is a normal sight to see 12 seater commercial buses carrying loads that go so high, you start to get a clearer picture of how bad things are.

The residents of the town should also share in some of the blame since the indiscriminate dumping of refuse especially into the few functional gutters can be attributed as a major factor in the ever-increasing flooding bedeviling the market when the impact of the state refuse management is barely felt, ironically this was the last portfolio of the present state governor His Excellency Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu before his election, he is fondly described as an Aba boy and his administration had high expectations to perform especially within the aba metropolis.

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For starters coming to Aba from either of the neighbouring states is a very difficult task on its own having to navigate through either the many police roadblocks where monies are extorted from the road users or the very bad roads, the worst is to come from Rivers State as the roads is a death trap and an eyesore, one begins to wonder why the same Sukuk funded federal road reconstruction that runs from Enugu State will be terminated at Umuojima junction in Abia State and the contractors have already moved out their machinery and yet the same road has been completed from Oyigbo to Eleme junction in Rivers state. This total collapse has caused massive loss of man-hours and has resulted in ever-dwindling numbers of customers from Rivers state who are some of the biggest customers in the markets within the town.

Abia state government needs to take seriously its move to reconstruct the market, but it should not be expected to hear of mind-boggling amounts being pumped into the market, instead, the state government should partner with real estate developers with the view of turning the market into a formidable world-class market through a Private Public Partnership (PPP) arrangement, such property developers must be people repute with broad industry knowledge and a flair for local content. These new development plans must include plans for an ultra-modern car park and garage. Logistics companies should be encouraged to key into making it possible to handle efficiently and professionally the movement of goods from and within the market, special places and paths of way must be reserved for those with disabilities, government tolls and taxes should be streamlined to avoid multiple taxations and illegal tolls and all taxes and tolls being collected should be paid for through digital means to stop all leakages and tighten the IGR. The process of further allotment of shops should be fair and free of nepotism and tribal sentiments and more can be done to improve on security, you will be bewildered to learn that there are no CCTV cameras in the market and almost all the traders do not possess a fire extinguisher, the shocker though is that there is no fire truck in the market in case there was to be an outbreak.

The indiscriminate trading on the expressway should be stopped as it is risky and life-threatening, the market leadership should urgently address and sensitize their members on the danger of trading on the expressway, if necessary a task force should be constituted to tackle heads the menace of trading on the highway to prevent accidents which will be fatal, the state government should also develop mechanisms with the relevant government agencies to stop substandard goods from making its way into the market, the gap in funding and accessing credit facilities should urgently be addressed as government grants are a mirage to the thousands of traders in the markets, yet it is common to hear of ludicrous amounts being disbursed by the federal government, the means to getting the right loans must be a core responsibility of the leadership of the market union.

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The state government must move in and address this eyesore and give no room to turning it into an abandoned project, for therein lies a sleeping giant, which if properly harnessed has machinery and yet the same road has been completed from Oyigbo to Eleme junction in Rivers state. This total collapse has caused massive loss of man-hours and has resulted in ever-dwindling numbers of customers from Rivers state who are some of the biggest customers in the markets within the town.

Abia state government needs to be serious in its move to reconstruct the market, but it should not be expected to hear of mind-boggling amounts being pumped into the market, instead, the state government should partner with real estate developers with the view of turning the market into a formidable world-class market through a Private Public Partnership (PPP) arrangement, such property developers must be people repute with broad industry knowledge and a flair for local content. These new development plans must include plans for an ultra-modern car park and garage. Logistics companies should be encouraged to key into making it possible to handle efficiently and professionally the movement of goods from and within the market, special places and paths of way must be reserved for those with disabilities, government tolls and taxes should be streamlined to avoid multiple taxations and illegal tolls and all taxes and tolls being collected should be paid for through digital means to stop all leakages and tighten the IGR. The process of further allotment of shops should be fair and free of nepotism and tribal sentiments and more can be done to improve on security, you will be bewildered to learn that there are no CCTV cameras in the market and almost all the traders do not possess a fire extinguisher, the shocker though is that there is no fire truck in the market in case there was to be an outbreak.

The indiscriminate trading on the expressway should be stoped as it is risky and life-threatening, the market leadership should urgently address and sensitize their members on the danger of trading on the expressway, if necessary a task force should be constituted to tackle heads the menace of trading on the highway to prevent accidents which will be fatal, the state government should also develop mechanisms with the relevant government agencies to stop substandard goods from making its way into the market, the gap in funding and accessing credit facilities should urgently be addressed as government grants are a mirage to the thousands of traders in the markets, yet it is common to hear of ludicrous amounts being disbursed by the federal government, the means to getting the right loans must be a core responsibility of the leadership of the market union.

The state government must move in and address this eyesore and give no room to turning it into an abandoned project, for therein lies a sleeping giant, which if properly harnessed has the potential of turning into the needed catalyst for the expected economic resuscitation of a state so renowned for its manufacturing prowess. Abia state government should not pay lip service to the issues of the Ariaria International Market.

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