Date Published: 12/02/09
Happy times for 737 Ibom traders By Ufuot Udokang
Life, for the displaced traders from the Uyo Main Market in Akwa Ibom state capital, had been tough in the last few months. In deed, since the market was demolished following the killing of an environmental agent, about six months ago, they had to squat at road corners to eke a living. But not anymore!
Now, the traders can truly heaved sigh of relief as about 800 of them have been recently allocated shops in the newly built ultra-modern Entrepreneurial Village, in Uyo. It took Governor Godswill Akpabio just six months to respond to the urgent needs of the displaced shop owners. Precisely, on Sept 23, 09, the modern market was thrown open to the delight of Akwa Ibom people. It comprises 666 lock up shops; 300 open shades; 26 brand new toilets; parking lots for over 200 vehicles well tarred with roads, drains; two mighty ware houses; bore holes, fire service stations and two beautiful restaurants would stand the test of time. In all, about N586 million went into the construction, according to official figures.
According the national PDP officials who participated in the commissioning, the entire market which replaces the shanty shops that were demolished, is a delightful sight to behold.
The Deputy National Secretary Dr. Musa Babayo and Chief Williams Makinde, National Treasurer of the Party were in Uyo to inaugurate the Akpan Andem Market extension. Representing the National Chairman of the party, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, Babayo said he was fascinated with the structures put in place.
“You have transformed the lives of the people of Akwa Ibom state. Indeed, Akwa Ibom State is a melting pot for the country. For the peace and harmony, your Excellency, I want to congratulate you. As you know, I came with the PDP family and we thank you for doing us proud” he said.
Another official said: “This is a clear manifestation of the vision of the PDP. You (Governor Akpabio) are an ambassador of the PDP”.
Akwa Ibom State created 22 years ago had one main market, known as Udua Uyo, in the state capital that was situated in the heart of the town. It belonged to the people of Uyo as a village. History has it that the market which had existed for over 60 years was one of their last traces. It is one legacy the people of Uyo so much cherished and did all they could to resist any attempt to relocate it. Some of the structures in the market were more of shanties. There were no good access road, no toilet facilities, and no fire service point in event of fire disaster. The only financial security the traders had was that commercial banks dotted round the market which made it easy for them to deposit their money after their daily sales.
Previous military and civilian administrations of the state had tried to relocate the market because of the traffic occasioned by the activities of some of the traders who displayed their goods on the road instead of using the shops inside the markets. Several attempts were also made to rebuild the market to befit the status of a state capital but all these efforts met stiff resistance by the traders who complained of lack of alternative shops to relocate to, while the construction work lasted when the old market would have been demolished.
Across the road is plaza as Ibom plaza which serves as a recreational park, a place used today by paparazzi to make brisk business. But that was not enough for the teeming traders to vacate the old market for expansion or reconstruction work to take place.
One other market that complemented the Uyo Main Market was the Akpan Andem Entrepreneurial market at Aka community that was built during the first tenure of the last administration of the state through the United Nations Development Programme UNDP assistance. The Entrepreneurial market had facilities like fire fighting station, a bank, over one thousand lock up shops, open shades and car parks. The distribution of the shops to traders however came with some bottle necks; some traders were unable to access the shops even through the third party.
Governor Akpabio on Thursday, February 12, 2009 took the bull by the horn when he announced the immediate and indefinite closure of the market following the brutal murder of a staff of Task Force on Enforcement of Environmental Laws by some unidentified traders. He also ordered immediate investigation into the killing in the Market by some persons suspected to be traders in order to bring the perpetrators of the heinous crime to book.
Accompanied by the Deputy Governor, Engr. Patrick Ekpotu, Secretary to the State government, Mr. Umana Okon Umana, the Chairman of Uyo Local Government Area, Mr. Chris Nyong, the Governor was conducted round the market where he was shown the shanties within the market. Without any intention of relocating the Uyo Main Market the government suggested a holistic restructuring of the market to suit the status of Uyo as an emerging cosmopolitan capital city.
The government also took into consideration the plight of the traders who were affected by the demolition of the old market and appealed to them to bear with the government as their only sacrifice was to allow the shanties to be pulled down to give the market a face-lift.
After much consultation with the traders and stakeholders from Uyo, the state government took a bold step and demolished the market. Before the demolition complete censuses of the traders in the market was taken and were subsequently mobilized financially by the state government to assist them to relocate.
In February this year 2009, the state governor Akpabio approved the construction of the Akpan Andem market extension to enable the displaced traders from the demolished old Uyo main market to be accommodated.
The ministry of Housing and Urban Renewal, which supervised the building, also handled the allocation. “The list of traders was drawn from the revenue register kept by the Uyo Local Government Area from the old market that was paying revenue to the council on account of ownership of shops. We are not going to the market to ask for new list. We already have the list”, Commissioner Emmanuel Enoidem explained.
“Akpabio is a man who is very fanatical about the development of Akwa Ibom and one who is emotionally attached to the development of the people. The construction of the market within six months is an eloquent testimony of the disposition of the present governor” he said.
The village Head of Aka community in Uyo where the new market is located, Chief Morgan in his appreciation on behalf of his subjects during the inauguration of the market described Akpabio as a man of his words. His appreciation was not only in words but in kind. “I came with a life cow to present to you as a token to thank you for giving us a new market and we are hopeful other project would soon be commissioned for the people of this community”, he said.