Traders in Alaba International Market have said that poor telecommunication network is killing their businesses.
According to them, as a result of bad roads, most of their businesses are being transacted through the telephone.
However, they said that in the past four months, the network situation in the market has deteriorated to the extent that they hardly receive calls or call out once they are within the market premise.
Mr Maduabuchi Adiukwu, the public relations officer, International Market Alaba Electronics (IMAE), told Sunday Sun that they have severally drawn the attention of the telecommunication companies to this malaise, but to no avail.
He said that they have even notified the National Communication Commission on the issue, but still nothing has been done about it.
The image-maker of the biggest electronics market in Africa said that the negative development is seriously hampering their businesses.
He claimed that if the customers call you for two days without getting through they would conclude that maybe you are not in Nigeria and they would begin to look for alternative markets to get what they wanted.
His words: “To be honest, Alaba International Market is completely shut out. As a result of the deplorable state of Lagos, Badagry Expressway, telephone is now the only way that we are doing our businesses. If a customer calls you on phone, you will discuss with him. If there is agreement, he will pay money into your account and you do waybill for him. But as it is now, customers cannot access us by road and they cannot get us on phone. So, we are completely shut out. In fact, we are losing tens of millions of naira on a daily basis as a result of this poor telecommunication network. We have made several efforts to get the telecom companies to come and remedy the situation to no avail. I don’t know if this is a calculated attempt to frustrate Alaba traders because outside Alaba, there is network. The only call that I receive for the whole day is in my house in the morning before I go to Alaba. Once I get there, I am cut off from the world; which means if there is emergency, traders in Alaba International Market will not know.” Also speaking, Marcus Agubataofia, said that for traders in Alaba, going to their shops is no more a good idea, saying that because of the poor network, he hardly goes to the market.
“Going to Alaba these days does not make any sense. In today`s world, business is transacted via telephones. How can you do business in a place where there is no network. So, I stay in my house where my customers can reach me and I will reach them. If we agree on phone I will tell my boys at Alaba to do waybill to him. So, to me now Alaba is my factory while my house is public relations office,” he said.
Anambra launches housing estate scheme for traders
•As ASMATA knocks Ogbogwu Market, insists on monthly prayers
Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
The Anambra State government has launched a housing estate for traders in the state at the former Agric Farm along Onitsha-Awka expressway at Nkwelle in Oyi Local Government Area.
The state Commissioner for Housing, Mr Mike Okonkwo who disclosed this at Traders House Onitsha while meeting with leaders of Anambra State Amalgamated Traders Association (ASMATA) and markets chairmen and secretaries in the state said that Governor Willie Obiano graciously gave out the farm for housing development in line with the return investment home (Aku ruo uno) initiative of the government.
Okonkwo expressed the need for traders to embrace the development opportunity, which has already been designed with modernized facilities which include security, good road network, treated water system, CCTV, electricity, hospital, shopping mall, police station, fire service and hotels.
Okonkwo said that the state government in partnership with Rotech Energy Services has designed the estate with modernized CofOs, adding that there is provision for five-bedroom duplex, four-bedroom duplex, three-bedroom boys quarter and two-bedroom boys quarters.
He urged the traders to utilize the opportunities to key into the housing scheme, which is affordable and closer to them than to spend more to develop other towns and cities that may not follow due process.
Meanwhile, the leadership of ASMATA, the umbrella body of all the markets in Anambra State has insisted on its earlier stand on monthly prayers in all markets in the state as had agreed in its meeting with all chairmen and stakeholders of different markets.
The market body issued a stern warning that default to the new guideline will no longer be tolerated.
President General of ASMATA, Chief Ikechukwu Ekwegbalu while addressing market leaders during an enlarged stakeholders meeting, which attracted all market leaders said that the decision was taken through votes for the benefit of the traders and customers.
Ekwegbalu said that one of the contending issues was the violation of guideline for prayers in different markets.
He said that he received an intelligence that a section of the Bridge Head Market, known as Onitsha Drug International Market (Ogbogwu) went against the directive and continued with their regular prayers.
He said: “We did not ban prayers in Anambra markets. What we did was to cut the prayer period to once per month, instead of having it regularly, so that traders will have time to do their businesses and to checkmate the antics of touts in the markets.
“At the end of the day, it was agreed among all stakeholders that prayers should be held once per month in all the markets. The reason was that we came to realise that constant closure of markets due to prayers had frustrated our customers, who subsequently diverted to other markets in Aba, Kano and Lagos.
“We subsequently directed all market chairmen to meet traders in their various markets and agree on suitable day they would be having the prayers every month because sticking to regular prayers will continue to impact negatively on the traders and the economy of the state.
“We did not ban daily Angelus prayers offered by 12 noon; we did not ban daily Divine Mercy prayers offered by 3:00p.m. Individual traders, who want to have quiet time can pray in their shops; but we cannot condone daily prayers that will continue to frustrate business activities in Anambra markets.”
Ekwegbalu insisted that ASMATA would abhor any form of opposition as regards the new directive, and tasked chairmen of markets to follow the directive up.
He also said that the market body would summon defaulting prayer groups.
In a related development, the leadership of the Bridge Head Drug Market, Onitsha has summoned an emergency meeting of all stakeholders in the market to thrash out issues over the insistence of the evangelical group in the market to continue with their regular prayer meetings in the market against the directive of the market leadership.
The emergency meeting held at the secretariat of the market at the Bridge Head, Onitsha, was attended by the chairman of the market, Anthony Chukwukelue Ezioba; his deputy, Norbert Okoli; and other exco members and stakeholders.
The chairman of the Ogbogwu market, Mr Ezioba, said that the essence of reducing market prayers to once per month was to revive the market system, which he said was almost collapsing as result of constant prayers and resultant closure of the markets.
“Recently, after a directive was issued by market leadership in Anambra, we summoned a meeting of all the 27 markets at the Bridge Head Market, which the drug market was one of them. The evangelical group of the Ogbogwu Market was represented at that meeting, where we agreed that prayers would be held once every month, precisely, last Wednesday of every month.
“We’re surprised to come to the market today to discover that the Ogbogwu Market is closed down, and prayers was going on. We learnt that the evangelical group in this market went to the state government and misinformed them that the situation in Ogbogwu Market was peculiar; and that the market would continue with its prayers as usual.
“We, the leadership and stakeholders of Ogbogwu Market with the traders, were not informed when the prayer group went to the state government to present the issue of this market; and we stand to condemn the act and say categorically that the group has no right to stand in for this market or determine our stand before the state government. As law-abiding leadership, we refuse to confront them, so that they won’t have another ground to tell more lies. We want the state government and ASMATA to intervene as a matter of necessity,” he said.
Other stakeholders of the market, who spoke at the meeting, including Sir Donatus Ugwudike, former chairman of Ogbogwu Market; Mr Kingsley Anyiam Ohaerisoba, a stakeholder in the market; Okpara Law Uzobihe, former chairman and BoT member; Sir Norbert Okoli, current secretary of the market; and Mr Ugochukwu Anozie, another stakeholder in the market; said the entire Ogbogwu Market stands by the idea of having one prayer meeting per month.
“They described the insistence of the evangelical group in having regular prayer meetings as self-serving and disobedience to constituted authority; and warned that they would not stand aloof to watch few disgruntled individuals distort existing harmony in the market.
They also urged the chairman of the market union to disband the evangelical group if it would not adhere to the norms.
The President General of Bridge Head Market Traders Association, Onitsha, Mr Sunday Obinze, also condemned the disobedience on the side of the prayer group and urged ASMATA leadership and the state government to call the group to order.
A patron of ASMATA, Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka (Ogirishigbo), said that upon announcement that prayers would be held once per month in markets, traders were happy.
He then wondered why a group would go against the directive, which he said was meant to reposition the markets.
“It is the truth and nothing but the truth that the prayer groups are there to enrich themselves through the traders. But there is no sense closing markets because of prayers. We do not have only one denomination in the markets. Just as Muslims go for prayers at their mosques whenever they want to pray; Catholics go for evening mass at their churches, individual traders can also go into their shops, observe prayers before opening for business. Evangelical group in Ogbogwu is not a church; it is not an independent ministry; it has no structure of its own within the market. This place is a market, and must be handled so.
“ASMATA did not ban prayers in markets. What we did was to direct each market to choose a date when it will be having prayers once every month, so that traders and their customers would have the time to do their businesses unhindered. The idea of few individuals or groups trying to frustrate business of others because of selfish gains is an abomination that cannot be allowed to stand,” Ezeonwuka warned.
Fish out fake drug dealers, Anambra Commissioner tells Bridge Head Medicine sellers
Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
The Anambra State Commissioner for Health, Dr Vincent Okpala has charged Ogbogwu International Medical Traders, Onitsha, to fish out fake drug dealers or risk total shutdown of the market.
The traders were also asked to maintain peace, pay up their revenues and expedite actions towards relocating the market as directed by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Speaking during the Ogbogwu Traders Reconciliation Town hall meeting at Onitsha, Dr Okpala reminded them of the ordeal they faced when the market was shut in 2007 because of fake drugs.
He lamented that fake drug dealers were making things difficult for his office, saying that many lives have been lost as a result of administering adulterated drugs.
“Within two weeks of my resumption, I have received three serious calls from the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Lagos, on issues concerning fake drugs from Ogbogwu Onitsha.
“You are important to Anambra State government. We would not want problems here. If you don’t conduct yourselves powers higher than state government may clamp down on you.
“Fake drugs peddling didn’t start today, but we can determine to stop it now. Co-operate with the special taskforce on fake drugs that was set up recently by the ministry,” Okpala said.
In his remarks, the Commissioner for Trade and Commerce, Dr Christian Mmadubuko advised the traders to ensure that the peace and reconciliation process going on in the market was achieved.
Mmadubuko said that tripartite committees, which include pharmacists, Ogbogwu Market traders, past-cum-present Ogbogwu market executives have been set up to address teething issues concerning the market.
“The committee headed by commissioner for health would address Ogbogwu leadership issues, handover, relocation of Ogbogwu market, combating fake drugs and other issues,” he said.
However, the Caretaker Chairman, Ogbogwu Market, Hon. Chikelue Ezioba, thanked the commissioners, ASMATA President General, Chief Ikechukwu Ekwegbalu, Ogbogwu Peace and reconciliation committee chairman, Sir Boniface Obi, and all the traders for their concerted efforts in ensuring peace.
Ezeoba also appealed to the state government to prevail on NAFDAC to come and dispose the expired drugs worth over N500 million stacked at the market union’s warehouse.