Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
Traders in the Onitsha drug market are working towards relocating to a new centre.
This followed the Federal Government’s prohibition of open drug markets in the country, as the government wants open drug markets replaced with Coordinated Wholesale Centres (CWC).
Daily Sun gathered that the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria (PCN), Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) and other pharmaceutical organisations have agreed to relocate the Niger Bridgehead market to a new site at Oba, Idemili South Local Government Area.
The leadership of the Onitsha Bridgehead drug market, known as the Association of Medical and Pharmaceutical Products Dealers, Onitsha, led by Mr. Uchenna Eze, has commenced plans to meet the December 31, 2018, deadline for the closure of the open drug market and its relocation to the CWC.
In March last year, PCN and Cross and Crescent Consulting, in collaboration with Central Pharmaceuticals and Allied Wholesale Limited, organised a two-day workshop for all the traders/stakeholders on the CWC as a new government policy of drug distribution in the country.
Speaking at the workshop, the Registrar of PCN, Mr. Elijah Mohammed, warned that there would be no going back on the closure of open drug markets in the country in December this year.
Muhammed said that whoever opposes the centres in some states where drugs would be sold would be seen as an enemy of the country and a criminal who should be arrested and prosecuted.
“Secondly, the CDC we are going to put in place in Onitsha will improve the health condition of the people and create more job opportunities. It would create more avenues for people to be employed and boost the confidence of non-Nigerians who have been coming to Onitsha to buy drugs.
“Some West African countries and others want to come to Onitsha to buy drugs.
By the time we build the coordinated centre, they will be reassured that it is going to be a structure that will look like Shoprite. Everywhere in the complex will be air-conditioned. The temperature of the place will be under control and Nigerians will be assured of quality drugs. Eonomic activities in Anambra State will be increased,” Mohammed stated.
He recalled that in August last year, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, visited the new site of the CWC at Oba where he explained that the December deadline for the closure of open drug markets and relocation to CWCs was sacrosanct.
Prof Adewole, who was at the site to ascertain the level of preparedness for the relocation and to meet the deadline, assured that there would be no open drug market in the country by January 1, 2019. He urged the leadership of Onitsha drug market to immediately commence the construction of the new market at Oba in order to meet the deadline, saying that no other place would be allowed for the CWC in the state.
The minister commended the state government for allocating land for the new market, noting the portion was large enough to accommodate everybody and promised to come and commission it when it is completed.
Prof. Adewole stated that the Federal Government, through his ministry, approved Onitsha, Aba, Lagos and Kano for the CWC in order to checkmate and monitor the influx of fake, counterfeit and adulterated drugs into the country, adding that the centre would also help in generating revenue for the state. He said that the deadline and the site would not be changed.
“If anybody has any dream, he should please wake up; this is the
place. If you are looking for another land this is the place or you go to another state.
“We are going to have only one coordinated centre and it is going to be here. There is no disagreement between the state government and Federal Government or between the traditional ruler of this place and state government over this land. So this place can accommodate everybody,” he stated.
Recently, PSN endorsed the relocation of Onitsha drug market at the Bridgehead to make way for the CWC at Oba.
The society was optimistic that the relocation would end the open drug market. It said that this would usher in co-ordinated drug distribution devoid of fake and adulterated drugs, as the regulatory agencies would have offices in the new market.
The Chairman of PSN in Anambra State, Mr. Patrick Obi, said this when he led other executive members to the site of the new drug market along Onitsha-Owerri Expressway, Oba. He was upbeat that the relocation would end incidents of fake and adulterated drugs in the market.
“The site is okay for the co-ordinated drug market and we are completely in support of the relocation of the drug market to this place. Immediately after our visit, the contractor will mobilise to site to commence work.
“We are hoping that they will meet the deadline of the Federal Government or get to a reasonable stage before the time. The old drug market is an illegal place. Drugs are things that should be handled by professionals. So, when this new market starts, the issue of fake drug distribution will end.
“People should rest assured that whatever they buy from the coordinated wholesale centre is genuine. I advise the drug dealers to key into the project because it is better for all of us. Nobody is safe with fake and counterfeit drugs. The location of the centre is central. It is close to Owerri, Asaba, Enugu and other parts of Anambra State.
“We have agreed with the Bridgehead drug market leaders that this place is okay for all of us.
“The problem of drug distribution will come to an end because every regulatory agent like NAFDAC, NDLEA and PCN will have their offices here and the issue of fake and adulterated drug would be a thing of the past. We thank the Federal Government for this initiative and PCN
of Nigeria as well as the state government for donating the land for the centre. If people still doubt the December deadline, they should please have a rethink and key into the project because we are doing these things to sanitise the drug distribution,” Obi stated.
Chairman Organising Committee, CWC in the state, Mr. Chinedu Nwankwo, and a fellow of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Mr. Alphonsus Mouogbo, said the closure of the open drug market would be a good omen to Nigerians and reduce unnecessary deaths from fake and adulterated drugs in the market.
The Chairman of the Bridgehead Drug Market (Ogbogwu), Mr. Uche Eze, who alongside his executive members took PSN round the site, said that the contractor would soon commence work at the site to meet the December deadline. He commended them for their support and encouragement.
He said that the drug dealers alone could not do it without the support of the PSN and other relevant stakeholders, assuring that they would continue to sensitise members and the general public on the need to key into the project.
He said that the drug dealers were ready to relocate to the new site any moment the project was completed, saying that they would benefit the most because the incident of fake drug in open drugs market would not be there again since the regulatory agencies would be on ground to monitor the activities and distribution of drugs in the market.
Eze, however, noted that the centre would bring the issue of fake drug to a zero level. “That is the greatest things the totality of Nigerians will achieve, because if you have a healthy drug sector, it will give the right impetus to the health practitioners and end users of the product. You would rest assured that whatever you buy from the coordinated centre is genuine and nothing but the genuine product,” he said.