The 1,040 fire proof shops in the newly constructed market located in Tamen along Abu King Shuluwa road, Makurdi is one out of many projects initiated and delivered by Governor Gabriel Suswam’s administration.
At the moment, the stalls are for sale in units. Facilities in the market include motorized borehole, police post, restaurant, tollgate, public toilets, banking hall, a clinic and fire station as well as abattoir not yet built but included in the contract.
Daily Trust gathered that many shops are yet to be purchased due to the high cost of the property and the fear that the incoming government may ask questions about the market.
The contractor that built the market, has remained unknown. On the day Suswam went to commission the market, youths in the locality rose against him in protest but they were repelled.
Efforts to get the state Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Terfa Atodza Ihinda to give the identity of contractor that built the market and explain job specification and why the abattoir was not built did not yield result as calls as well as text messages put through his phone were not answered.
Similarly, the governor’s Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Dr. Cletus Akwaya who promised to update his knowledge on the matter to give details never did until the time of this report.
The state Ministry of Commerce desk officer in the market, Mrs Sarah Akwaya said, “There’re no traders for now. We don’t know why they’re not coming. Many people have paid but have not packed in.”
She disclosed that the capacity of the market is 100 shops, 100 warehouses, 600 open shops and 300 lock up shops as well as 40 farmers shops.
According to her, the warehouses are sold for N4 million with a provision for buyers to make deposit of first installment at 45 percent of the entire cost and to later pay in five installments which run for five years.
Similarly, the lock up shop sells for N3.5 million with first installment pegged at 40 percent of total cost while the open shop goes for N3 million with first installment of 40 percent and the farmers shop can be purchased at N300,000 of first installment of 40 percent in same five installments applicable to all buyers of different categories.
“Anybody that can afford the shops pays for it. It is government initiative. We don’t rent it out, we only sell,” Mrs. Akwaya added.
Samuel Vaabaakaa who is the project manager of Rubbing Minds Consulting Firm based in Abuja, the company implementing the sales plan opined that government must find a way of encouraging people to move into the market so that the purpose of establishing it is not defeated.
He said the harsh economic situation and the cost of the property have been largely responsible for the non resumption of trading activities in the market which originally was meant to boost commerce in the state.
“The economic situation and amount involved are difficult for people. Those who have purchased shops cannot pack in now depending on the kind of businesses they do. Only wholesalers are operating at the moment because their businesses are usually in the morning when distributors come in to make their purchases.
“Government needs to encourage people to come by moving traders along the roadsides in neigbouring Wurukum market to occupy the open space section of the market.
We will regulate how much rent they are to pay to owners of the property who bought directly from the government,” Vaabaakaa explained.
The project manager lamented that the transition in government is however hindering the process of starting the market. He assured those who cannot purchase one to make themselves available to rent spaces from the buyers. He said: “Nobody should be scared buying a shop here.”
As a way of helping to start the market, Vaabaakaa said a major transport company in the state, Pleasure Travels has secured a park on the market premises and would soon begin operation there, stressing that this will help to jump-start the market.
For Veronica Achado who operates a make shift fruit shop by the roadside directly opposite the market’s gate, the decision of government to build the ultra modern facility within the locality is the best thing that happened to the shopping public around the area which is fast developing.
She posited that petty traders like her also stand a chance of making positive changes in their finances from the benefits that would accrue if they find a space inside the market but that sadly the purchasing power is far beyond her.