* Excitement as Wike promises chops to victims, community first
By Codratus Godson
The Fruits Garden Market (European Foods Market) in D-Line was valued at N15Bn before it was burnt. The value was derived from the number of shops burnt and what it cost each person to acquire it from the Port Harcourt local Council. Now, the market has been rebuilt and renamed by Gov Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.
European Foods Market (Fruit Garden Market) valued at N15Bn before it was razed by fire in September 2018 has been commissioned after being rebuilt by the Rivers State government. The victim-traders, numbering up to 205, went wild in jubilation when the governor announced that they would all get their shops back before the remaining would be balloted for.
The governor who renamed it Ogbunnabali Fruit Garden Market to reflect the identity of host community this approach would henceforth be a policy of the state government so that host communities do not disappear into one name, Port Harcourt.
He said: “Let me assure all of you, that those who are traders here will get back their shops. We already have the names of these traders.
“We shall also allocate shops to the host community of Ogbum-nu-Abali. Thereafter, we shall ballot, if there are shops remaining “.
The Governor warned the traders against selling on the road. He said there are shops and spaces to accommodate all traders within the market. He urged trucks to drive into the back of the market to offload, warning that his tolerance would break if they failed.
He urged the traders to always pay their taxes because such taxes would be used to develop more projects for other residents of the state.
He recalled that the market was razed down during the campaign period. According to him, several political groups made promises, but only the Rivers State Government was able to redeem its pledge. The APC candidate who was later stopped by the courts had equally released N15m sympathy to the traders and promised to rebuild the market if elected.
Governor Wike stated that fire fighting equipment would be installed in the market to forestall future occurrence of fire outbreak.
In a project description, Permanent Secretary, Bureau of Special Projects, Sunday Okere, said the new market has four buildings (one storey each) and eight buildings (bungalow), designed to promote commercial activities. Other facilities in the market include: 232 Open Stalls, 72 Lock Up Shops, Toilet Blocks, car park, drainage, internal roads, a warehouse, generator, transformer, perimeter fence and a security house.
Mayor of Port Harcourt City Local Government Area, Victor Ihunwo, said the Rivers State Governor lived up to his promise to the traders. He said that the market is the best of its kind.
“The Traders are celebrating the Market and Governor Wike who has kept his promise”, he said.
Chairman of the Ogbum-nu-Abali Fruit Garden Market Traders Association, Chigozie Nnolim, expressed gratitude to the Rivers State Governor for delivering the Market to them.
The occasion witnessed traditional dances by women and wrestling exhibition matches by men of the host communities.