From Okey Sampson, Umuahia
The Abia State government has said it is in sympathy and solidarity with traders of Ariaria International Market who were affected by the recent flooding in the market occasioned by the torrential rains of the past three days.
A statement, the Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Chief John Okiyi-Kalu, said while government may not have the means of preventing heavy rains from falling in market in the state, the administration undertook the ongoing remodeling of the market, with new drains and other measures to deal with the perennial flooding challenges.
Okiyi-Kalu said after a meeting with affected traders and other stakeholders in the market, government taken the following measures to checkmate the flooding.
“The developer of the market to commence excavation and construction of a 2-metre width culvert across Faulks Road from A-line to channel storm water from the construction area to Waterside River in Aba through Faulks/Osusu Road drainage way.
“The extension of the ongoing reconstruction project at Omuma Road, Aba, to include connection of the wide drains to the Ifeobara area to provide alternative channel for gradient flow of storm water to the natural collection points at waterside river.
“Market committee, project monitoring team and ministry of trade and investment officials to embark on the immediate assessment and evaluation of the extent of damage done to goods of affected traders by the rainfalls with a view to recommending appropriate financial and other support from the government to them.
“Two years tax waiver to all the traders affected by the ongoing remodeling of A-line in Airiaria International Market including exemption from payment of revenues collected by state and local government agents in the market.”
The statement added that while the construction of high quality shop structures in A-line will continue, government will mobilise needed resources to ensure that as soon as the rains abate, construction of A-line road and associated drains will commence and conclude within the coming dry season window.
“We therefore wish to seek the continuing partnership, support and understanding of our traders and visitors to the market for the successful execution of this phase of the project which will deliver modern market infrastructure to generations of traders.”
Okiyi-Kalu, while admonishing politicians and their agents attempting to instigate crisis in the market over the recent flooding to desist from it, said Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has directed security agents in the state to ensure protection of the market and the traders as well as deal decisively with trouble makers and their sponsors.