From Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
Barely three weeks the Onitsha Medicine dealers otherwise known as Ogbogwu International market Onitsha Bridgehead protested alleged planned relocation of the market, traders Wednesday shutdown the market for six hours in protest, rejecting the relocation to Oba site of the market.
The traders who locked all the entrances and gates of the market insisted that the market would not be opened for business until governor Willie Obiano address them on the alleged plot to relocate the market to Oba site in Idemili South local government area of the state.
The protesters with placards with various inscriptions such as “We say no Oba, Oba is fraud, Oba is erosion site, we will be in the land of God not in hand of man, Uche Eze should hand over to new leadership”among others.
The Public Relations Officer of the market MaryChaplet Igboameze and one of the leaders of the member Chief Obele Prince who addressed the traders said they were ready to go to any other place apart from Oba proposed site for the coordinated wholesale centre.
Igboameze alleged that the former chairman of the market Mr. Uche Eze wanted the make the proposed market as his personal enterprise which made him not to hand over to the new leadership of the market.
“We are protesting because former leadership wanted to go to Oba to force us to new market project which they rejected. We don’t want to go to Oba.
“The traders annoyance was that the former chairman of the market Mr. Eze after four years he refused to handover documents of drug market. He (Eze) said that federal government approved Oba site for the Central wholesale drug market project but it is not true, it is only traders that will decide where they will relocate and not federal government to decide because it is the traders that will finance the project and not government to build the market for the traders.
“Traders doesn’t want to go to Oba because of the nature of the place. We want a place where the poor or rich will be accommodated. We are willing to go anywhere else but not Oba. We want a place where our interest would be protected. We are considering Awuzu site because the place has more hectares of land than Oba site”Igboameze stated.
However, it took the effort of Commissioner for Trade and Commerce Chief Uche Okafor who came from Awka to address the traders, appealing for calm to resolve the matter amicably.
He immediately scheduled for a meeting the next day between the government, the leadership and representative of traders at the Board room of Secretary of the State Government (SSG) where the matter would be resolved and appealed to the traders to open their shops for business.
But in his reaction, the former Chairman of the market Mr. Eze denied all the allegations by the leadership of the maket, saying that the Oba market site was approved by both state, federal governments and community as a suitable place for the wholesale market which has over 50 hectares of land.
He said that former minister of Health, PCN and PSN visited the site and approved it, adding that the delay has made the project not to commence earlier than now in Anambra because it has kicked off in Lagos and Kano remaining only Anambra.