• As mixed reaction trails action

by Angela Nwaeze and Chidinma Imoeze

The local government Chairman of Ebonyi local government area, Hon. Chinyere Nwogbaga, in whose jurisdiction the Abakpa market was situated, has issued a 30days quit notice to traders in Abakpa main market, Abakaliki.

The notice reads, “I, Hon. Mrs. Chinyere Nwogbaga, chairman Ebonyi local government area, Ugbodo your sub-lesser /landlord hereby give you notice to quit and deliver possession of shop 27 Cameroon line, Abakpa Main market, Abakaliki and its appurtenances lying and situate thereby which you hold on lease . This notice shall expire on 31st day of August, 2019.

However, some traders have lamented over the new development, mostly those who don’t have money to pay for shops at the Margret Umahi’s International market.

According to a 75 -years -old trader, Nweke Titus, he cried out that he procured his shop before the civil war and came to his shop after the war, and that it was leased to him by the then chairman of Ebonyi local government area, Hon. Sunday Adol Awam for thirty years, which is still counting.

His words: “I am from Inyimagu in Izzi local government area. This market is located in our place. It is the people of Inyimagu and Agbaja that own Abakaliki. When I acquired this shop was during the war until 1967 when the war ended, I came back to the shop. We were paying rent as at then. What we were paying per shade was not up to N50. I came here 1967 and the war ended 1970.

“Look at my hair, they are all gray. I am 75 years old today. I got married and gave birth to my children here. I am old and they said we should come and pay N3.2 million naira. It was during the regime of Adol Awam that we were given lease to build these shades, and the lease is still remaining 30 years.

“We were here today and they came with police and forced us to collect the quit notice. They never asked us to sign the quit notice. What we read from the quit notice is that after 31st of August, they do not want to see us here again. She should give us another shade and allow us to be paying on installment of N500, 000.

Other traders who lamented were Ozoemena Okoafor and Chukwuemeka Okoye who sell crayfish and provisions stores, stating, “I am from Nsuka in Enugu. I deal on crayfish in Abakpa market. We do not know why they are asking us to leave the market. We have paid the annual dues and for business premises. The lease they gave to us has not expired, but they are asking us to quit the market. The lease is supposed to expire in the next thirty years.

“They have not shown us any alternative place to go. We were only asked to quit. We need intervention from any quarters, especially those of us who are not from this state.

“I deal on articles. But if we are leaving here, are we going to carry our wares on our heads and be roaming about? I do not know what their intention is. We have paid all market levies for the year, but I do not know why they have asked us to leave. There is no place they have shown us, but they simply asked us to leave”, they said.

Meanwhile, during an interview with the market Chairman, Comrade Christopher Eze, he stated that the State government’s directive to relocate from the market to the new international market located along the Ogoja Express way was a welcome development.

He assured traders that the shops are already eighty percent completed, stressing that before the stipulated period of vacation that the new market must have been ready for the comfort of all traders.

He noted that they had earlier been informed of their relocation, adding that the decision would be for the interest of the entire traders, as it would attract investors to the State.

He pointed out that the Abakpa main market was under lease though the period has not expired but the government has the power to withdraw it when it is for the interest of the traders.

Comrade Eze while decrying that the market was already congested stated that they were giving three conditions prior to their relocation and according to him, “it is true, that things are hard, no good soup is made without money. Before you do any thing that needs money, you have to sacrifice yourself, sacrifice your money before you achieve that goal. Whoever said that he is going to react negatively is doing that on his own capacity. We are just tenants here, government allocate land you build, and government is collecting money from you every year, are you not a tenant to the government? They are now saying that they want to collect the lease they gave to you. Despite that the lease has not expired but his Excellency promised that he would compensate those that have shops, he sent former commissioner for Lands and Survey, Prof. John U. Eke, and his team, and they went round the market and measured the sizes of our shops. They would pay you compensation based on the number of shops you have and the sizes. We have no space and that has resulted to traders occupying the asphalted road.

Continuing, “There are so many options available now with the ministry of commerce, one, if you can be able to raise 320,000 I.e. 10 percent of the 3.2 million naira and bank will pay the balance for you and secure the shop and give to you. You will now continue paying to them gradually until you finish, when you finish with them they give you your C of O.

“Secondly, for those that feel it is too costly, government would give you land and you pay money for the C of O, interest form, acceptance form and other fees totalling 121,800 naira whereas you will wait for others to pay, and until the number of shops at that particular line is completed, then the land will be allocated to them to build to the standard of the State government while they bear the cost.

“For those that don’t have money they can wait, after commissioning the market you be a tenant and one can out rightly buy the shop for 3.2 million,  upstairs is 3 million, ware house upstairs 2million, ware house down stairs 2.5 million.”

Adding that following the relocation, Abakpa market would be renovated to a befitting standard as it would serve as food stuff market. He enjoined traders to take advantage of the new market as they would not regret their moving over to the new market.

While another trader, Mr. Eze Ogbonnaya Okorafor, aka Marshal, a phone accessories dealer at No 23 Gunning road, appreciated the State government for the initiative, stating that it would boost the economy of the State, and attract foreign investors to the area.

Another trader, Mr. Chibuike Elem, applauded Umahi’s led government for taking the bold step in relocating the traders to the long awaited international market.

He called on others to take drastic action in ensuring that they secure a shop in the market.

When our correspondent visited the new market, it was discovered that the market is 80 percent completion, as workers were seen on ground fixing doors and tiling the shops. While about 12 shops were under roofing stage.

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