Why Abia govt is yet to open Ariaria Market despite pressure by traders


* But Aba traders threaten to open markets against by force, accuse Ministry

* Ministry says its not because of sale of buckets

The Ministry of Trade and Investments in Abia State has denied accusations by Aba traders over delay in reopening Ariaria and other markets in Aba.

This is as the traders in Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State, are threatening to reopen their various shops in major markets, should the state Ministry continue to delay the reopening of markets in the area.


Governor Okezie Ikpeazu on Friday, May 1, 2020, at a meeting with stakeholders agreed for gradual relaxation of lockdown with some terms needed to be fulfilled.

Part of the terms includes the raising of a 17-man Covid-19 enforcement committee by the leadership of the various markets to help monitor compliance to safety regulations.

The meeting agreed also that the market leadership, the committee, and the Deputy Chief of Staff, office of the Governor, would work out modalities and guidelines for the re-opening of markets.

Almost one week after the directive, however, the committee is yet to be set up, raising doubts over readiness of government to open the markets.

The traders are also alleging that the Abia State Ministry of Trade and Investment is delaying the opening of markets to enable them compel them to purchase hand washing buckets of which price ranges between N2500 and N5000.

“We cannot continue to sit at home when we know that our Governor has given an order that we are willing to comply with so that our shops can open. We read from the newspapers that he has instructed us to have buckets of running water, face masks, and sanitizers.

“Almost all of us have bought those items and are waiting for them to open the markets, only for us to hear that the Ministry in charge of trade and other persons are yet to form a 17-man committee.

“They’re joking with our future and we will forcefully open our shops if they insist on making our lives miserable”, Gilbert Ezenwa, a trader in Ariaria told a national business newspaper.

Alphonsus Ezeike, a cosmetics dealer at Eziukwu Road Market, alleged that both the Ministry of Trade and Investment and other departments charged by Ikpeazu to form the committee have dubious plans.

“We’ve heard that they insisted we must all buy their buckets with tap, before they will reopen markets for us. Instead of looking at our sufferings, they are seeking ways to enrich themselves.

“I have bought it and I’m willing to even buy their own for any amount, provided they will open the markets. People are tired and are ready to confront anyone, who is joking with their businesses.

“The Governor should query our market leaders, because it’s a deal between them and the ministry”.

However, Cosmos Ndukwe, commissioner for Trade and Investment, in a telephone interview, denied the allegations, describing it as deadly rumour.

He explained that the delay in the reopening of markets is not the fault of his ministry, as more meetings are to be held, between the market leadership and the office of the Deputy Chief of Staff to the state governor.

“I don’t know where they are getting these rumours from. Some of these traders have a way of peddling rumours that are very deadly.

“And they’ll not even have little courtesy to hear from me, as you are doing now. We’ve not had such a meeting with anybody concerning selling of buckets.

“I don’t manufacture buckets, I don’t sell buckets. Will government be that stupid to go and buy buckets and ask traders to buy it, so that the traders will go and fake it?

“The delay is just because we’re trying to see what we can do to compel maximum orders in the markets, because our markets are so tight, especially Ariaria. Governor is the only one that can issue directives on date”.

He pleaded with the traders to exercise patience, as the government feels their pains and is handling some issues, by looking at some factors that would help them achieve a mileage on the matter.

“You see, all the people that come from West, North, like Kano, are major stakeholders in almost all the markets in Aba.  So, we want to put up some protocols that will help us to checkmate unnecessary spread of this pandemic.

“Another thing is that the committee members that will be selected will all be trained and after the training, they’ll go back and pass all instructions to the marketers that’ll carry out the enforcement”, he stated.