Press Release from the Abia State Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Chief John Okiyi Kalu:
The attention of Abia State Ministry of Trade and Investment has been drawn to an orchestrated protest held on Wednesday, 12th October, 2022, by some politically sponsored individuals masquerading as traders at Ariaria International Market leading to the destruction of some construction equipment deployed to ensure the proper remodeling of A-line with a view to checking the perennial flooding of the market and deliver modern maarket infrastructure.
Security agents have been deployed to the market to protect lives and property of traders and workers of the designated developers as well as ensure the immediate arrest, prosecution of the perpetrators and their sponsors no matter how highly placed they are as we will not watch idly while few individuals take the law into their hands.
While it is a fact that government has no tool at the moment to prevent torrential rains from falling in any part of the state, including Ariaria International Market area, we have consistently taken measures to ensure that traders do not suffer unduly as a result of the forecast floods ravaging both the country and the entire world.
After due review of the current flooding situation across the country, affected areas in Ariaria and the subsisting forecast by Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) and Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) advising further preparations for more floods, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has approved the immediate relocation of traders in A-D zones of A-line to available shops in the A block zone, So-Safe zone and Ochendo zone in Ariaria International Market for temporary accommodation without any fees pending the completion of the ongoing work. The executives of Ariaria market committee and security agents are to supervise this immediate relocation exercise to avoid further damage to goods with possible risk of collapse of some structures within the affected zones.
While we acknowledge that the developer has commenced execution of the newly proposed culvert, we urge that they ensure completion within the 2-weeks given for the work to be done as well as explore the opening of other channels that can help evacuate storm water out of the market after every rainfall.
Government has also commenced implementation of the 2-year tax waivers recently granted to the traders affected by the ongoing reconstruction work along A-line and the approval of the Governor has been fully conveyed to Abia State Internal Service (AIRS) while the ministry of trade is working with Ariaria market executives to complete the verification and issuance of relevant documents to affected traders from next week.
Government is also aware of the activities of some unscrupulous agents of political actors who have been going round the market to attempt to extort Fifty Thousand Naira (N50,000) from unsuspecting traders ostensibly to fund legal actions against the remodeling project, and wish to advise traders to discountenance the activities of such individuals as they do not mean well for them. Security agents have received details of those involved and necessary action will be taken against them. It cannot be in the interest of hardworking traders for the 46 year old market to be allowed to continue to rot away with the attendant risks to smooth trading activities and human lives.
We are determined to deliver on the remodeling of A-line as we are aware that not doing so will be a great disservice to the majority of our people. Those political actors attempting to disrupt the project will surely have their intentions end up in futility.
Chief John Okiyi Kalu
Honorable Commssioner for Trade and Investment