Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Abia State Governor, Alex Otti, Sunday visited the section of Ahia Ohuru (New Market) at Ngwa Road, Aba, which was gutted by fire Saturday night.
Goods worth millions of Naira were destroyed in the inferno cause of which is yet to be ascertained.
Governor Otti who visited the market in the company of his wife and top Government officials, expressed sadness over the incident.
The Governor frowned at the poor condition of the structures housing the market stalls, saying that the they are not fit for human activities.
He promised to engage with the traders through the market leadership to, first, relocate them to a temporary site, rebuild the place and bring them back.
“First of all, this place is not worthy for anyone to stay. All these places. This (the structure) will soon cave in. So, what we need to do is engage the market leadership. All these buildings need to go down from A to Z. So we can relocate them to a temporary place and rebuild here, then they come back, the Governor said.
He added: “Modern market shouldn’t be like this, they (the traders) need help. A fire truck can’t even enter here, so we should have that in mind when we are planning.”
Chairman of the market, Uchechukwu Anyanwu, had earlier upon inquiry, told the Governor, that the market had lasted 30 years.
According to Anyanwu, most of the structures were not meant for multiple floors but traders started converting them to multi-storey buildings.
Governor Otti directed the leadership of the market to liaise with the local government chairman to engage with the Greater Aba Development Authority (GADA) to discuss how to fix the market and come back to him.
“So you work together and come back to me on what I will need to engage with the market people. First of all, there must be somewhere to relocate them to, then you bring the entire place down and we rebuild and they will come back. There should be proper ventilation,” he instructed.
The Mayor of Aba South, Chief Uche Wogu, attributed the poor condition of the buildings and structural arrangement of shops in the market to lack of proper planning and the use of substandard materials in building the shops.
Chief of Staff, Dr. Caleb Ajagba, was among government officers that accompanied the Governor to the market.
The Governor had earlier, worshipped at the Methodist Church, Wesley Cathedral, Aba, where he joined the congregation at the Annual Covenant Thanksgiving Service.