‘Now’s Time To Restore Makurdi Modern Market’
MAKURDI Modern Market, one of Benue State’s sources of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) is begging for government intervention.
The market was built by first civilian governor of the state, late Aper Aku, who left behind an enviable track record of achievements, which some analysts say has not been surpassed. Sadly, the market, one of the remnants of that legacy, might have been abandoned.
In 2003, the market suffered two major fire outbreaks that resulted in the loss of property worth millions of naira. The unfortunate development rendered jobless many who had built a living around the thriving market. Again, in 2004, another blaze razed the market, forcing relocation by traders who had become wary of the recurring inferno. Four years ago, another conflagration tore through the market, licking in its fury valuable goods and property. Traumatised traders feared there was more to the incidences than met the eyes, and like the proverbial last straw, the once bustling hub was all but abandoned.
But despite the infernos, it appeared concerned authorities have not yet woken up from their slumber.
A senior government official, who did not want to be named, however, described the present condition of the market as a reflection of the failures of the past administration in the state. He noted that while the new government is faced with huge financial challenges, there are grounds for optimism that the market could get a lifeline.
In an interview in Makurdi, Chairman of the market, Mr. Francis Okoye, told The Guardian that he has become weary of trying to draw the attention of the state government to the problem, which he described as very unfortunate.
He said many of his colleagues have been sent to early graves, as a result of the tragic loss they suffered in the incidents. “Many of our people borrowed money from banks. Some even sold their houses to start their businesses. Many of those that were affected have died because of heart attacks and related health problems. But we hope that the new government will turn things around,” said Okoye.
At the moment, the market is in serious need of rehabilitation, as most of its stalls have been gutted by fire. “Right now, no one can call this a modern market. There is nothing modern about it,” said one Maduka who urged government to revisit the market with a view to restoring its former glory.
One of the affected traders, Jude Okoye, said he lost goods worth millions of naira to fire and consequently was forced to abandon sale of building materials and take up tailoring. Now skilled in his new profession, Jude expressed hope that he would someday return to his former occupation.
“I had just received a consignment when the last fire incident took place. I lost everything,” he said, calling on the state government to construct a fire station in the market to forestall another occurrence.
Emeka Obasi, another victim, said he was only fortunate to have secured a loan after loosing all he had to the incidents. He, thereafter, abandoned the market and relocated to one of the new shopping malls in the town.
Shopping malls, meanwhile, have continued to spring up in Makurdi, providing an alternative to distraught traders at the Modern Market. “Even though the rent is higher, I prefer to operate here because it is safer,” said Obasi.
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