- Residents contend with traffic gridlock, refuse dumps
Night street-trading has taken over the centre of Umuahia, the Abia State capital, causing heavy traffic gridlock and littering the environment with refuse.
This development appears to have defeated the purpose of relocating the Umuahia Main Market to Ubani Ibeku by the Abia State Government, as the traders have been returning with their wares to the city in droves.
Our correspondent observed that the traders have taken up virtually every available shop and open space around the site of the old market where the government is currently constructing a housing estate and an event centre.
A palm oil dealer, Mr. Chuks Ahukanna, who spoke on the development, said the resort to night-trading was as a result of low patronage in the new market. Ahukanna called on the state government to reconsider its decision on the old market.
The immediate past administration of Chief Theodore Orji, had, in 2013, relocated the market, which was at the centre of the city to enhance aesthetics and decongest traffic along the major roads.
While the market, which was characterised by indiscriminate erection of lock-up shops and makeshift stalls existed, the adjoining roads were often blocked by refuse.
According to Orji, who is now a senator representing Abia Central Senatorial District at the National Assembly, the decision to relocate the market was taken by the colonial administration in 1935.
Speaking with our correspondent, the Chairman of the market’s traders’ association, Mr. Onyebuchi Ejidike, blamed the development on the proliferation of illegal markets in and around the state capital.
Ejidike, who agreed with the government that the relocation was necessary and overdue, also accused owners of residential and uncompleted property in the city of converting them to shops.
According to him, the situation had been further compounded by the deplorable condition of both major and internal roads in the market, which he said had become impassable for big trucks.
The traders’ association chairman urged the government to ensure the quick completion of the Umueze-Emede-Agbo Ubani road, which he identified as the shortest route from the state capital to the market.
He also appealed to the state’s newly inaugurated Market Development Committee to look into the traders’ challenges with a view to addressing them immediately.