Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, OFR, on Sunday visited the section of Ahia Ohuru (New Market) at Ngwa Road, Aba, which was gutted by fire Saturday night.
Governor Otti headed straight to the market after worshiping at the Methodist Church, Wesley Cathedral, Aba, where he joined the congregation at the Annual Covenant Thanksgiving Service.
He frowned at the poor condition of the structures housing the market stalls, saying that the condition of the buildings and their layout pose great threat to lives and not fit for human activities.
Consequently, the Governor, who was accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Priscilla Otti; the Chief of Staff, Dr. Caleb Ajagba; Mayor of Aba South, Chief Uche Wogu; and some other officers of the state and market executives, promised to engage with the traders through the market leadership to, first, relocate them to a temporary site, rebuild the place and bring them back.
“First of all, this place is not worthy for anyone to stay. All these places. This (the structure) will soon cave in. So, what we need to do is engage the market leadership. All these buildings need to go down from A to Z. So we can relocate them to a temporary place and rebuild here, then they come back, the Governor said.
He added: “Modern market shouldn’t be like this, they (the traders) need help. A fire truck can’t even enter here, so we should have that in mind when we are planning.”
Turning to the Chairman of the market, the Governor enquired how long the structure had been in existence to which the Chairman, Mr. Uchekwukwu Anyanwu replied, “over 30 years”. According to Anyanwu, most of the structures were not meant for multiple floors but traders started converting them to multi-storey buildings.
Governor Otti directed the leadership of the market to liaise with the local government chairman to engage with the Greater Aba Development Authority (GADA) to discuss how to fix the market and come back to him.
“So you work together and come back to me on what I will need to engage with the market people. First of all, there must be somewhere to relocate them to, then you bring the entire place down and we rebuild and they will come back. There should be proper ventilation,” he instructed.
The Mayor of Aba South attributed the poor condition of the buildings and structural arrangement of shops in the market to lack of proper planning and the use of substandard materials in building the shops.