The Changing Face of Ariaria International Market, Aba

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By our Reporter

Over the years, the Ariaria International Market in Aba, Abia state has been faced with the deplorable condition of its roads. Customers could no longer access the market because the entire roads leading to the market became impassable. The situation led to customers abandoning the market. Business was at its lowest ebb as traders daily lamented of lack of patronage.


But recently, the situation appears to be changing as the market now enjoys a new lease of life with the on-going rehabilitation of roads in the market. All the major roads have been rehabilitated with drainages while some other ones are being paved.

A visit to the market revealed that road rehabilitation works have been completed at the Free zone and Timber Line area while the A Line is waiting to be asphalted.

As a result of the rehabilitation of the roads in the market, commercial motorcycle operators now convey customers and traders from one Line to the other within the market while cars and heavy duty trucks are regularly seen loading and off loading goods.

The motor parks and public conveniences are now wearing a new look while banks like Fidelity, Access, Enterprise and others have maintained their offices in the market. The Abia State Vigilante Services also have an office in the market with an adjoining police station opposite the market on Faulks road.

A cross section of traders who spoke to 247ureports.com expressed gratitude to the Abia state government for fulfilling its promise to rehabilitate the roads stressing that the gesture would help to boost trade in the market.

A trader at the A Line area, Mrs Nkeiruka Michael who was visibly elated at the changing face of the market said business  is now spring up as most of their customers who ran away because of bad roads have started coming back.

“I m happy with the rehabilitation of the internal roads in the market. You need to be here during those days the roads were bad. Then, our customers could not come due to the problem of bad roads. Even if they manage to come, it will be problems here and there because their vehicles can’t pass the muddy waters. Those days, you can stay for day without making any sale, but I thank God, the situation has changed,” she said.

The chairman of the Ariaria International Market Traders Association (AIMATA) Chief Francis Eze Duru could not be reached for comments, but a member of the Reactivation and Management of Ariaria International Market, Chief Chidi Agbawo described good road network as the basis of businesses in the market, stressing that the ongoing rehabilitation of roads at the market confirms the commitment of the Abia State government to give the market a facelift.

 

Agbawo thanked the Abia state government for her commitment to upgrade the state of the market.

“Recently, the governor gave us N100 million as advance to the contractors for the road projects. He is the one doing the work, but we are supervising it. Last two weeks, we asphalted Free Zone and Free Zone road ‘B’. We asphalted two roads last week. The ‘A’ line would be asphalted in two weeks coming, “he said

Mr Samuel Ikechukwu of the ‘Free Zone’ area of the market opined that the rehabilitation of the zone has helped to improve trade in the area and reduced the stress they were faced when the road was still in a bad state.

Another trader, Mrs Happiness Nwosu appealed to the governor to ensure that the contractors handling the various projects use quality materials to do their work to avoid a situation where they would go worse when the rains set in.

She expressed hope that when the roads are completed, it  would help to bring back some of their customers who had ran away from patronizing them as a result of the deplorable condition of the roads in the  market.

Our correspondent gathered that the volume of trade in the market has improved since the road rehabilitation works commenced as some of the customers from neighbouring states are gradually returning.

The traders thanked Chief Ezeduru for drawing the attention of the state government to the challenges the traders are facing in the market. “Gov. Theodore Orji has really done well by building this road. He should make sure that the contractors use quality materials to do the job. If not, the rains will wash them away during the next rainy season and we will be back to square one,” the traders said.

Another trader who simply gave his name as Jude appealed to the governor to look into the bad state of gate of the Timber Line on Faulks road. According to him, the area should be rehabilitated to ease the flow of traffic. “Since the Timber Line, A Line and Free zone have been rehabilitated, the portion of the road should be done and drainages desilted. This is the only way to stop the flooding of the area whenever it rains,” he said.

When our correspondent visited the Ukwu Mango area which is the major access to the market from Enugu —- Port Harcourt Expressway, it was seen that businesses have been resuscitated since the Abia state government repaired the spot which was impassable for over 20 years.

Recall that the Ukwu Mango area which is the easiest access to the market by customers from neighbouring states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, River, Imo; amongst others, became a subject of politics as the opposition parties alleged the governor abandoned the market despite its strategic importance to the state.

Speaking to newsmen during the commissioning of the rehabilitated spot last year, a former member of the House of Representatives, Chief Mao Ohabunwa, said that it was difficult for the opposition in the state to controvert the commitment of the governor to change the face of the area. He added that the Ukwu Mango, which the governor commissioned, was not just for Aba people alone, but for the entire Nigerians who visit the Ariaria International Market to do business.
Speaking at the event, Gov. Orji said he was touched when he saw the level of dirt in the environment that was supposed to be an access to the market. He said it was unfortunate that previous administrations in the state had come, without doing anything in that direction. “When I first saw this road, I said that whatever it is going to take, I will do the road. I Thank God we have done it today. The jobs we are doing now are things people are running away from. We have not finished, we keep working”.

“For the past 20 years, the road was blocked and nobody agreed to repair it. It is me who has no shop in Aba that did it. It was done so that people can enter the market.

For the traders and residents of the area, the completion of the Ukwu Mango area has been a big relief to the people who described their plight as pathetic in the past 20 years, since flood submerged their shops. They recalled that their shops were submerged by flood for over 20 years until the governor rehabilitated the area.

To them, their customers from neighbouring states could are gradually returning as the access road from the Enugu —-Port Harcourt Expressway has been rehabilitated while the internal roads of the market are now a beauty to behold. In all, the traders and their customers seem to be saying that Ariaria International Market is fast regaining its lost glory.

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