David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
Chairman of New Motor Spare Parts Dealers Association, Nkwo Nnewi Market, Anambra State, Mr Dennis Ikegwuonu has advised importers among the traders in the market to be cautious over their travels to China because of the Coronavirus epidemics in that country.
Ikegwuonu disclosed this to Sunday Sun on Friday while fielding questions on the level of developmental projects in the market.
“Yes, most of us travel to China and Europe for business transactions. We have received the news about the deadly disease ravaging China and other overseas countries.
“We are not medical doctors who are better informed about the deadly disease, but I advise our traders to be extremely cautious the way they travel to China and other European countries. They should find out the particular area the problem is and avoid that part of the country for now. As for Lassa Fever, it’s all about personal hygiene and carefulness. Since it is said to be contagious, they should watch their body contacts with others and other measures, “ he said.
In another development, Ikegwuonu said that his administration has begun fixing interlocks projected to cover the entire market of eight lines that accommodate about 200 traders in each line. He said that about three lines had already been completed with the projection that the entire market would be covered with interlocks before the end of 2020.
He said that when he declared he would interlock the whole market some of the traders were in doubt, “but when our market reopened for the New Year, most of them could not believe what they saw because work has been in progress up till this moment. Many of them have been commending my efforts and prayed for God to bless me.”
Ikegwuonu said that he came to set an example of what leadership should be in the market, explaining that democracy is possible anywhere even in market administration, if any leader wanted to be democratic.
“I promised the traders that I would make this market a standard one. And since I assumed office on April 24, 2019, I have not looked back in making sure that I fulfill my campaign promises. We have electricity in the market and we have in addition acquired high capacity sound-proof generators to have adequate power supply in the market. And we now have a befitting secretariat, well furnished for our association, which was not there before, “ the chairman said.
Markets going up in flames caused by human error –Okeke, president, Mandilas Trade Centre
The President of Mandilas International Trade Centre (MITC), Lagos International Trade Fair Complex, Badagry Expressway, Chief Anthony Okeke has said that the Federal Government has not realized the huge potential in the Lagos trade fair complex.
He claimed that the Lagos International Trade Fair has the biggest concentration of informal sector in the country.
He said that if the Federal Government can partner with the traders in Lagos Trade Fair complex, it would go a very long way in boosting the nation`s economy.
In this interview, he also spoke on the amount of employment being generated in the complex, the forthcoming commissioning of the market, the award that was given to Mandilas International Trade Centre as the most clean market in the whole complex, among other issues. Excerpt:
Mandilas International Trade Centre has been described as the fasted growing market in Lagos State, why is it so?
Well, the description is true because we came to Lagos International Trade Fair Complex about five years ago, in 2015 to be precise and if you take a tour around the market, you cannot believe what we have achieved in this few years. Within the few years that we have been here, we have won several awards. Our leaving Lagos Island is one of the best things that have happened to us as a body. What a lot of people don’t know is that before you are registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission as a market, you must be in your permanent site. But in Lagos Island, we were tenants and again, there is no provision for markets in Lagos Island in the Lagos State master plan. But the reality is that some people are still lucky that no governor has decided to enforce this. However, one day somebody like Donald Trump would become the governor of Lagos State and would decide to enforce it. So, some foresighted people in our association thought long ago that we should leave what was obviously Egypt to the Promised Land. It was not easy, but after some setbacks, in the year 2015,we relocated here and since then it has been Eldorado.
What is that, that has given Mandilas an edge over the other markets in Trade Fair complex and beyond?
Well, I want to say that we are different market associations and as such we are not in competition. All the market associations in Trade Fair complex are collaborating and not competing. However, I want to say that what has made us unique is leadership. We are well structured. All my executives are graduates of different tertiary institutions in the country. I am a graduate of University of Lagos, Akoka, while our general secretary is a lawyer. So, we operate like a corporate body. Even if you see the way the traders in the market dress, very decent. If you go around, you would think that the people here are doing white collar jobs. Our environment is very peaceful and also very clean. You cannot get the noise that is usually associated with markets in Mandilas.
What is your relationship with the Federal Government?
Our relationship with the Federal Government is very cordial. We and the government are partners in progress. However, the only thing is that the Federal Government has not realized the huge potentials in Lagos Trade Fair complex. Federal Government does not know the volume of business in the complex. This is the largest concentration of the informal sector in the country. Lagos Trade Fair complex is a hectare of forest that through self-help has been turned into world class shopping malls. We are currently one of the biggest employer of labour in the country. If the Federal Government can take us serious, we have the capacity to turn the economy of this country around.
What is your vision for the New Year?
My vision is to take this market to greater height. I want us to do more than we did last year. I want everybody in the market, the cleaners, truck pushers and others to be self-sufficient. We are the only market in the country that is recognized by the Federal Government because when we were constructing, they came here and see that the construction was going according to international best practices. So, from that lofty height, we don’t want to come down. For us the executive, it is forward ever, backward never. I want us to make the market the greatest, not just in Lagos Trade Fair complex, but in the whole country. At the moment, we have the most conducive market environment in Lagos State as a whole. We are the most peaceful, the most secured and the safest market in Lagos State. Even if you forget your bag here in the market and go home, the next day, if you come, you will still see it. So, that is the type of structure that we have built here. You can go to Trade Fair Police post to find out. Since we came here, there has never been report of burglary, stealing or shop tampering. We maintain the best customer relationship. We can probably be the only market in Lagos State where there is no crisis. We care a lot for our fellow traders and that is why we are doing health week, that is, we test our members for illnesses and give them drugs free of charge.
What do you have to say about the current fire that is rampaging markets in Lagos State?
It is very unfortunately that such is happening. But if you check, you would see that a lot of them are as a result of human error. For instance, most of the markets in Lagos State are congested and fire in one shop can easily go into another shop. But if you check our own complex, you would see that all the roofs are decked. That makes it fire-proof. Another thing is that our market is well ventilated. It is also not congested. But all that safety measures notwithstanding, we also have fire extinguishers installed in all the plazas.
What advice do you have for the traders?
Any time I want to address the traders, I always start by thanking them for their followership and support. My members are very wonderful people. It is because of their followership, support and corporation that we have achieved the current milestone. I know that it is not easy. However, I am pleading with them to exercise perseverance. They should be patient with us. We would take them to the Promised Land. I am also using this medium to tell our brothers and sisters who are still at Lagos Island that there is a place for them here, where they can come and do their businesses without hassles.