Posted by News Express | 4 September 2020 | 373 times
By CHARLES IWUOHA
Many months after traders were relocated from Abakaliki’s main market to the international market, demolition of structures of the Abakaliki main market has commenced to pave way for a new city in Abakaliki metropolis.
Abakaliki main market situated at the heart of the Abakaliki metropolis was established as early as 1972. However, the market at a point became overpopulated. This made the previous administrations of Ebonyi State to propose relocating the market.
Based on that the past administration of Martin Elechi in the state, commenced the construction of the international market along the Abakaliki and Ogoja high way. After commissioning it the traders refused to move to the international market. Many of them had complained of the non-completion of some sections of the market.
Governor David Umahi came in 2015 and gave the international market a face-lift by demolishing most of the structures at the market and turning them to upstairs.
Following this, the government issued a quit notice to the traders at the Abakaliki main market and ordered them to relocate to the international market.
The traders however refused to relocate to the international market. Some of them even approached the court to challenge the government.
This caused crisis between the traders and the government. The traders later lost in court and they finally relocated to the international market after many refusals and litigations.
The traders relocated to the international market on 1st March this year.
Some of the traders had opposed the eviction by the state government which they said has thrown them into untold hardship but their argument did hold water.
Following recent outcry by residents of the state and security intelligent reports on the activities of the hoodlums who hide in the shops to rob some of the unsuspecting members of the public when the traders relocated to the international market, the State Government decided to demolish the structures and change the face of the environment.
The government is planning to construct a housing estate at the defunct Abakaliki main market. The estate when completed will have a mini vegetable market and relaxation centers.
About 500 housing units will be constructed in the defunct Abakaliki main market.
Emmanuel Uzor, Special Assistant to the Governor David Umahi on Fruit and Vegetable Market Development, and Supervising Special Assistant on the Capital City, Poultry and Estate Development, while speaking during the demolition of the market said: “We are in the defunct Akpakpa market, one of the biggest market in Ebonyi State that was before the advent of the international market.
“This Abakpa used to be a major market where commodities are been sold. It was a market conceived by our forefathers even before the creation of Ebonyi State. So it was market formed by our elite traders in those days who saw the potential of making good business in the urban area but what happened is that those our forefathers who bought the market from Nkaleke people, it was a land inhabited and been cultivated by the Izzi people got the land by trade by barter.
“They had a small market then but along the line, Adol Awam was the local government chairman who came and sees there was a need to develop the market further from the original owners who were trading on the land. So he now builds the structure we are now demolishing in a modern way and leased it to traders so what we did when Ebonyi State was created, the market was already in existence before the master plan.
“So along the line in the master plan, it falls inside the residential area that successive administrations felt it was very difficult to move the market but when the present administration came on board there was nothing impossible and there was already an alternative to the traders that is the international market. So that made it easy for the government to relocate the traders to a modern facility that is the international market.
“It was a battle that the first administration fought and lost, the second administration fought it and lost and this present administration came fought and won. So the secret is because there was an alternative, the international market. The traders had no difficulty in moving.
“So when they moved it now became necessary for the government to pull the structure down and put it into another use.”
Uzor disclosed that “after the demolition of the market structures, the Government plans to build a relaxation centre, vegetable market among other things. The relaxation center had been in the master plan of Ebonyi State.
“The next phase, We are going to have two things do here we are going to build a recreational park, where we will have a cinema hall, a 9D game, and other sweet things that will make life meaningful for the residents of this area. We are going to have a very estate here for low-income inners. Is going to be built by the state government for our people to look live it will have all the facilities, road, constant light, police post, it will have a clinic, small food market where we will be selling foodstuff for people around here,” Uzor said.
He added: “With the movement of the market we expect all the buildings that were used for commercial purposes to return back to residential. They turned it to commercial because of the proximity of the market but now that the market is no more here they are expected to go back to residential.
“Nobody went to court because the building belongs to Government what happened is that there was a lease some of them their lease expired in 2013, some in 2003, but what they do, they keep on renewing the lease but part of the agreement in the lease is that govt has right to take back the land whenever they want for whatever developmental purposes. Some of them who went to court that time didn’t go to court because they were dragging the property they went to court because they felt the ejection was not favourable to them.
“After the enumeration, we will do the integrity test of all the buildings that are around here privately owned. What we do is if we check the building and it passes the integrity test we will tell the owner to see the master plan, is either you remodel your building to what we are doing or you can sell to somebody who will do that. It is going to be business for them. But those ones that are unpardonable we are going to revoke the land and pull it down.”
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