By Favour Goodness
Ebonyi Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (EBCCIMA) has expressed worry over the lingering face off between state government officials and business owners driving investors away.
EBCCIMA in a statement said they’re “not happy with the unfolding avoidable clash between agents of Ebonyi state government and commercial transport operators/owners, following government’s move to relocate and centralize all motor parks.”
The statement signed by Dr Ezeh Emmanuel Ezeh, President, EBCCIMA, the chamber said while they understand the regulatory role of the government, “it is also important to accommodate the concerns of the transport operators through necessary negotiations and roundtable dialogues.
“Transportation in a fragile economy like ours is a major economic activity that drives other multilayer activities in the society; and there is need for order and decorum in the conduct of the sector vis-à-vis other sectors’ economic activities.”
Also, it disagreed with the locking out of some traders in the New Building Materials Market as a result of disagreements existing between government agencies and various of other trade groups and market associations in the state describing as “a step taken too far.”
“The traders having co-operated with government in moving to the new Building Materials Market site peacefully, can be asked to pay monthly installment of agreed sums, considering that the economy is presently very tough even for established businesses, not to talk of MSMEs who are virtually living from hand to mouth.
“We urge restraint and encourage continuous dialogue as we collectively strive to move our state forward. It is our belief that roundtable approach to conflict resolution remains most suitable in a democratic setting such as ours, rather than resorting to hard-lines.
“All acts of destruction and violent confrontations are therefore condemned in strongest terms, as they are clearly unrepresentative of who we are as Ndi-Ebonyi. We call on the governor as the father of the state to take a higher moral ground in this instance and order investigations into all alleged violation of human rights.
“It is very imperative to de-escalate rising tensions while the Chamber wades in as the leader of the Organized Private Sector (OPS) for possible mediation in all these cases.
“We also use this opportunity to appeal to Ebonyi state government to remind relevant security agencies manning strategic checkpoints at the various entrance routes into Ebonyi state, especially Abakaliki capital city that we are not at war.
“We understand that the general security situation in the country has become more complex, but this does not warrant a situation where citizens/commuters are forced to trek and match with their hands raised up while approaching check-points.
“These acts must have driven away potential business opportunities from Ebonyi State thereby stifling the already weak economy. The Chamber believes we can actually afford a more business-friendly environment than is presently in place.
Ebonyi state sits at a very strategic economic corridor of the country and as such, any economic disruption sends a bad message about Nigeria to the international communities especially in this era of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) negotiations.
“We re-emphasize: Ebonyi’s fragile Economy must be saved from this slow and painful death occasioned by constant clash between government agents and organized private sector in the State,” the statement reads in part.
EBCCIMA also said they “are looking forward to quick and amicable resolutions of these issues so that all parties may continue to join hands in moving the state forward.”