By Ugochukwu Alaribe
ABA—Traders at the Ariaria International Market, Aba, Abia State, have rejected the order directing them to relocate to the Aba Mega Mall and accused the State Market Development Committee of planning to take over their shops in the planned reconstruction of the market.
Vanguard gathered that the agency had directed traders at the Park 1 and 2 sections to relocate to the Aba Mega Mall, to make way for the reconstruction of shops. But the traders have vowed not to move, describing it as a ploy to deprive them of their shops.
Even the repeated assurances by the Chairman of the Market Development Committee, Chief Solomon Nwaigwe, that no trader will lose his shop, could not sway them.
Addressing journalists in Aba, Chairman of the National Association of Nigerian Traders, NANTS, Deacon Michael Aniorji, accused the market development committee of planning to sack traders from the market under the guise of rebuilding it, adding that the distortion of the original plan of the market was done by government officials and its agencies who encouraged erection of shops on drainage channels.
The traders union insisted that they fully support the demolition of structures built on drainage and walkways, but are against the plan to relocate them to the Aba Mega Mall which they described as a private facility.
According to Aniorji, “we are 100 percent against the planned reconstruction and demolition of already existing structures not built on drainage. They now want us to relocate to the Aba Mega Mall. This is a ploy to rob us of our shops. No trader is relocating.
“Why can’t the government partner with us in the development of the market? Ariaria International Market is enjoying international status only by the sweat of the traders.
“These shops are our only investment. It is from these shops that we pay our rent and train our children; it will be inhuman to take it away from us.
“We, therefore, call on Abia State government to resist the temptation from selfish politicians and gold digging businessmen.”