August 5, 2018

UMUAHIA: Jubilation as Ishi Gate Market returns

UMUAHIA: Jubilation as Ishi Gate Market returns

*Inside Ishi Gate Market, last Thursday

By Mark K. Mbam

It has been moment of joy for traders in Umuahia, Abia State capital since the return of the colonial Ishi gate market located in the heart of the city.

The market which was, before now, relocated to Ubane main market during the administration of   GovernorTheodore Orji in 2013, caused pains and losses to many traders who lost their shops.

*Inside Ishi Gate Market, last Thursday

But, according to then – Abia State government, the relocation was aimed at sanitizing and decongesting the city to give the capital the desired look.

However, the business of the traders nosedived from low patronage despite the modern facilities provided in the Ubane modern market.

A visit to the market showed that over 50% of the shops remained under lock and key since the inauguration in 2013.

In an interview with some traders there, it was lamentations galore.

One of them, Chief Uduma Kalu, who sells household utensils, noted the dwindling fortunes of traders since they “were forced into the Ubane market”. He explained that the distance between the market and the city centre had tremendously affected their businesses.

He recalled their days at the Ishi gate market where he operated three “flourishing shops” that enabled him to send two out his five children to the university “unlike now when it has become very difficult to provide for the family let alone meet other responsibilities”.

He added, “You can see that many of the shops are vacant while many of us relocated to the Onu Imo market in Imo State”.

Mrs Nkeiru Orji (aka Madam Fashion), who deals in ladies wears and accessories, described their situation at the new market as unfortunate, recalling her glorious days at the Ishi gate market.

“But we were lucky to have secured shops here because many of our colleagues who could not afford the price of the shops at this new market have been in misery. I know of my neighbour, Mama Ada, a widow, who has since relocated to the village with her six children”, she added.

Meanwhile, succour came the way of the displaced traders when the Majority Leader of the Abia State House of Assembly, Engr. Chinedum Orji, representing Umuahia Central, was touched by the plight and he appealed to the state government for a partial waiver for the return of commercial activities around some parts of the colonial Ishi gate market.

When Sunday Vanguard visited the market, last week, it was a beehive of activities with traders beaming with joy and full of thanks to the state administration, particularly Chinedum Orji whom they described as a liberal leader with a milk of human kindness.

The traders noted that their return to the market was a new era in their businesses.

Mr Chukwura Okereke, a dealer in clothing, thanked God for His mercies and the magnanimity of the House leader who God has used to alleviate their suffering.

According to him, he had lost all hopes of livelihood until the return of the Ishi gate market.

Miss Njideka , a 2007 graduate of economics from the University of Nigeria Nsukka, who took to petty trading after searching for job in vain since her graduation, thanked God for their return to the market.

Analysts have expressed the fear that the return of traders to the Ishi gate market will defeat government’s earlier policy to decongest and bring decency around the area.

But traders at the market allayed the fear, saying they have organised themselves for a periodic clean-up exercise in the market and environs to ensure that the beauty of Umuahia is not hampered by their activities.