By Ugochukwu Alaribe – Umuahia
Traders at Ngwa road market, Aba, Abia State, protested the proposed demolition of their shops at the market by the Abia State Ministry of Trade and Investment.
The traders also lamented against the siting of a telecommunication mast within their shops, describing it as unhealthy and dangerous for their operations.
Chairman of the stakeholders of the market, Mr Titus Chimezie, said the traders were never contacted on the proposed demolition which according to him was erroneously announced on radio that they all agreed.
In his words; “Last week they called us and we told them that the shops are good and added that if there’s anywhere they see that’re bad, they should tell us and we’ll go to that line and instruct the people to renovate it properly. We agreed and they left.
“It was to our greatest shock, on Thursday last week, we started hearing on radio that all the traders in Ngwa road agreed that our shops should be demolished. When we heard it, we said no, that’s not what we agreed.
“We decided to use this medium to please remind them that on no occasion did we ever agree that they should come and demolish our shops. We’re not fighting or making trouble with the Government.
“Our complaints are very understandable. These shops were built by some of our parents and old traders here. Aba South LGA still owes them several millions of Naira which they used in erecting these shops.”
Chimezie stated that the Ministry of the state still collects N3,000, annually as revalidation fees from the traders at the market.
“In 2020, they collected N4,800 for the same revalidation and we are not complaining. We’re suffering alone without help.
Now, this January after pandemic, we’ll pay for school fees, house, take care of our families and they want to demolish shops. Many men are even sick and can’t even feed their families due to hardship,” he lamented.
On the siting of the mast in the market, Chimezie said that when he learnt of it, he alerted the market Chairman, Mr. Chijindu Ojogho, who accused the traders of fomenting troubles.
“When I called the market Chairman, he said that we from Anambra and Imo State are the ones causing trouble in Abia.
”That how can the indigenes of Abia take decisions in their land and we’ll come from our place to change it. If we keep quiet, we’ll all die here as a result of the dangerous effects of this mast.”
“Governor Ikpeazu is a good man, but no human being should use his selfish interest to cause hazard in this market and trying to make it look as if traders are fighting Government.”
Contacted, the Chairman of the Ngwa road market, Mr. Chijindu Ojogho said that it was the traders who wrote to the Ministry of Trade and Investment to come up and demolish some zones they felt the buildings are not strong enough again.
He said; “On the 23rd of November 2019, the then Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Chief Cosmas Ndukwe, visited the market and we took him round the market and he saw some of those shops that aren’t strong enough that need demolition. He took pictures and left.
“Some months ago, some people came to me with an approval letter from the Ministry of Trade and Investment for restructuring of the market. They had meetings with us and many other stakeholders of the market.
“They told traders that the complaints about some of the shops have been approved by the Governor for them to demolish and rebuild the shops.
”They were the ones that wrote to the Trade and Investment Ministry for the demolition.
“As for the mast, I don’t have hand in it. Yes, I was in my office as the Chairman of the market, some people came to me with authorized approval to build a mast inside the market by state government.
“I have no other option than to let them do their job. The market doesn’t belong to me. I’ve gone on air to speak about this, but it’s the Government that approved it.
”I’m too small to approve such. It’s the Ministry of Trade and Investment that approved it.”