From Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
Traders of Onitsha Medicine dealers otherwise known as Ogbogwu International market Onitsha Bridgehead Thursday shutdown market to protest flag-off market project to relocate market to Oba in Idemili South Local government area of the state.
The traders who shot their shops as early as 7am Locked and blocked all the gates and entrances of the market demanding that the market should be sited in Oba due to alleged space accommodation.
The Chairman of the Market Chief Donatus Ajamma said that the traders were ready to go to any other place apart from Oba proposed site for the coordinated wholesale centre.
Ajamma 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.
“I was at home when I got information that there was protest at the market. So, I got to the market, they told me that they were protesting because former leadership wanted to go to Oba to flag-off the new market project which they rejected.
“The traders said they don’t want to go to Oba. When I looked at the tensed situation and I decided to call the commissioner of trade and commerce on phone to alert him and he told me that he had stopped the flag-off ceremony in 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 protect 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 spend their money for the project and not government to build the market for the traders.
The Organizing Secretary of the market Kenechukwu Anagor and Public Relations Officer of the market MaryChaplet Igboameze said they protested peacefully and doesn’t want to block road or cause public disturbance as peace loving people.
“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 than 25 hectares while the standard is 16 hectares which is enough to contain everybody”.
Meanwhile, elders of Oba community the owners of land led by Chief Boniface Onyeka who gathered to the site of the project insisted on flag-off of the market and performed the foundation laying.
“We have performed the foundation laying because the project is irreversible. God has chosen this place to cite the project and no man can stop it, government both federal and state chose this place and no individual or group can stop.
“We have done the flag-off any time government or PCN is ready they will come and perform their own. We are the owners of the land and we have prayed and blessed this land and have willingly approve the place the market” Onyeka stated.
The former Chairman 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 delay made the project not to commence earlier than now because it has kicked off in Lagos and Kano remaining Anambra.
“The problem will be resolved amicably by next week and the PCN will come and perform the flag-off ceremony”.