By NewsCritic Reporters
Traders whose shops are currently under reconstruction at the Ariaria International and Ngwa Road Markets Aba, have raised the alarm that some desperate and conscienceless political actors in Abia State are trying to build an unmerited political capital out of the otherwise honest and sincere intentions of the state government to bring the hitherto dilapidated infrastructural facilities at the Markets to global standards.
The traders, under the aegis of Concerned Aba Traders, said they are greatly saddened by the despicable efforts of some people to harvest political fruits from the ongoing remodelling and reconstruction efforts at the two biggest markets in the state, by blackmailing and sabotaging the efforts of the state authorities in making business activities easy for the traders.
The traders, who spoke through their spokesperson, Hon Frank Moses, noted that of recent some political desperados, using a few of the traders, have been hauling uncharitable accusations on the state government, with a view to gaining unmerited political gains.
Just last week, some of the traders, whose shops are among those under reconstruction, alleged that apart from not being consulted before the demolition exercise that preceded the reconstruction efforts, they are being asked to pay the sum of N20,000 naira each as registration fees and another N5m each for them to have their shops back in the end.
According to them, such conditionalities and the fact that the reconstruction efforts may not be completed before the exit of the incumbent Gov Okezie Ikpeazu’s administration are indicatives that the government of the day has concluded plans to use their shops as parting gifts to cronies.
But Hon Frank Moses, who is also the immediate past Vice Chairman of the market, in an exclusive interview with NewsCritic online, described such insinuations as not only malicious and wicked but a display of crass insensitivity on the part of some political elements to reap devilish political gains from the current efforts to secure the lives of traders and other users of the market.
“For the records, let it be known that before the demolition exercise, government of the day held several consultative meetings with the affected traders. Now that the reconstruction efforts are ongoing, the affected traders have been asked to register so that the authorities will have a clear picture of those whose shops are affected, with a firm promise that they will all get their shops back at the end of the reconstruction efforts. We’ve been told that whatever amount that we will pay to have our shops back will be paid in instalments, so that the traders will not feel the impact. He said “Government has even promised to pay certain percentage of the money for the first 100 people. So, with all these practical steps by the government to reassure the affected shops owners and traders of the safety of their investments, one wonders where all these wicked insinuations are coming from if not from some desperate political elements”, Hon Moses stressed.
Efforts to track down the management of the contracting firm, Blessed Hen King Limited were unsuccessful as at the time of reporting, but an authoritative source close to the Managing Director of the firm, Henry Okoroafor, told NewsCritic online that there is no iota of truth in the insinuations making the rounds that the government of the day may have resolved to give out the shops to political allies. “The fact is that what we are doing here is not just building shops. We are building for posterity, going by the quality and standard of the reconstruction efforts. Another fact is that we are taking measures to ensure that all the problems associated with Ariaria market of old, especially flooding is a thing of the past.