Traders protest non-allocation of shops in market

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By Ruth Oginyi

Abakpa main market women, on Wednesday, stormed Ebonyi state Government House, Abakaliki, in protest of their alleged exclusion in the allocation of shops at the Margaret Umahi International Market.

The women numbering over 200 were seen wailing and rolling on the grounds of Government House, Abakaliki.

The traders, bearing placards with different inscriptions, ” Say No to Fake Shop Allocation”, painted their faces with white chalk (nzu ) holding green leaves and chanting war songs as they marched along the road to Government House gate.

They lamented that those who were allotted shops at the market on Monday were traders from villages and that none of them got allocation of shops despite applying for the shops at the cost of N50, 000.

One of the women who spoke on their behalf stated: “We are ready to move to the International market, and we like the structures the governor has put in place in the state.

“But we have been receiving conflicting reports about our relocation. Different people will come and say governor said this and that; things different from what Governor Umahi told us in person.”

They claimed to have met with the governor last December where he told them that he would allocate shops to them without pay for one year after which they would negotiate payment terms and we accepted.

According to them, “But now, it’s not what the governor said that was done”, alleging that the shops allotted to them had been taken over by others.

In his reaction, the special assistant to the governor on security and utility [Abakaliki Urban] Saint Nchekwube Anakor, assured the women that their agitation would be taken care of.

He told them to come forward with the list of those who applied for shops as well as the list of all the traders at the Abakpa main market to the new market on Thursday so as to address the issue.

“I need two lists, one for those who bought form and the other containing names of all the traders in the market. Come with your executive to the International market. I want you to know that you are still part of this government.”

“We will meet there, but the most important thing is that you people will move. The governor will not take your shops and those who have shops will be given shops at the International market. In Ebonyi state, we deal on standards and that international market is the best in the country, even in West Africa. So, it will be good for you people to move to that place.”

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