By Ijendu Iheaka
Aba (Abia) Aug. 17, 2022 (NAN) Traders at Ariaria Market, Aba in Abia and the state government have engaged in a war of words over the delay in the reconstruction of a part of the market.
The traders accuse Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of delaying the reconstruction of the affected part of the market so as to give new shops there to his cronies as parting gifts.
Permanent Secretary, Abia State Ministry of Trade and Investment, Mr Michael Egwu, says however, that the allegation is untrue.
“We have architects, and engineers and all the professionals who are consultants on their own.
“The governor assembled them to ensure that the jobs that are being done will stand the test of time and outlive the generation that is to come, at least up to 100 years,’’ he said.
Egwu stressed that the allegation against Abia government were false and baseless, denying that the delay was for political reasons
“If factors like the rains and delay in funds affect the project, does that take us to the argument that government doesn’t want to complete the project? That is a no,’’ he said.
Mr Cletus Okorie, former chairman, Ariaria Medicine Line, affected by the demolition had earlier told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the reconstruction had yet to take off fully since September 2021.
He alleged that Gov. Ikpeazu never planned to return the shops to their original owners who bought land and built the shops ravaged by flooding.
“The flood in the area has become a river because of the delay.
“There was no forum where the governor told the traders that he would rebuild and hand over the shops to their owners; rather it was in the news media that we heard it,’’ he said.
Some traders told NAN that they had been told to pay N20,000 to a bank to collect allocation forms and N5 million to own a shop there after reconstruction.
The traders lamented that the arrangement was unthinkable after they had been rendered penniless with the demolition of shops they built originally.