The Ariaria International Market in Aba, Nigeria has taken a remarkable shape and from all indication is set to take its pride of place in the comity of modern markets across Nigeria and indeed the world, courtesy Blessed Henken International Company Limited; the private company in charge of the remodeling of the old market and other stakeholders who have and are contributing to the project.
Taking newsmen on tour round the remodeled edifice which now has completed designated sections for different product categories, wider aisles, and improved ventilation, the Managing Director of Blessed Henken International Company Limited, Engr. Henry Okorafor said plans were underway for other initiatives like waste management systems, designated parking areas, enhanced security measures, digitize transactions, making the market more efficient and attractive to international businessmen.
Engr. Okorafor who toured Journalists through the A-Line section of the market which is almost completed and already occupied by some percentage by traders said the newly remodeled Ariaria Market would look like Dubai in Nigeria adding that all the word-class facilities seen outside Nigeria in western countries, would be replicated in Ariaria, Aba, Abia state, Nigeria.
He also reiterated that the structures are fire-proof, which means the incidence of fire outbreaks which is common in most markets in Nigeria, will never be experienced in this new Ariaria market.
The MD of the Blessed Henkel International Company Ltd cleared the air on the rising speculation that the project was a government project stressing that the project is a PPP, meaning that individuals can partner with them to achieve the dream of making Aba the Dubai of Nigeria and also a city that will be better than the entire cities of Lagos and Abuja.
On this note, he stated that the government has no financial partnership with them yet towards the project but they are in partnership with their Chinese team who solely fund each project handled by his company. He maintained that the idea is to develop Aba within the next 5 years, build the entire city of about within 7 years and maintain it for 20 years why they recover their fund by taxing each household in ABA dependent on the agreement that would be reached with the government.
On the other hand, the land is on lease to them for 10 years which they renew annually.
However he stated that the government assisted his company to get a loan of 1.5 billion naira which they are currently paying back as he maintained that the challenge they had was the minor misunderstanding with the past administration in signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which delayed the project and also led to the withdrawal of their Chinese team which prompted them to source for funds.
Clearing the speculation as to whether traders were compensated due to the demolition, he asserted that they was some sorts of compensation, adding that virtually the current price of the new shops is equivalent to the old price.
He stated that existing owners are to pay the sum of 5m naira for each shop while new owners pay 6m anywhere in the building and that the existing owners have the right to sell their shop if they are unable to buy hence they have their allocation paper to new customers.
He maintained that before the demolition, the market has about 3,600 shops why after demolition there are 4, 200 shops ready for use, meaning they are building more than they demolished within the space of 3 years.
The shops which were built on 12 feet foundation have convenience, 10 hours power supply, elevators for easy trading and evacuation in case of emergency, fireproof doors, computerized security doors, concrete deck walls that can prevent fire outbreak from crossing over to other shops in case of inferno, the shops are also connected together meaning from one building you can go to the other building and it is elevated more than other areas to help manage flood. He also added that his company is manning the security activity for now.
Traders and their customers expressed great gratitude to Henry Okoroafor for initiating the plan of developing Aba, stating that this is indeed the Dubai of Nigeria which has never been seen before in the history of ABA and urge everyone to give him maximum cooperation.