Suleja and its environs in Suleja Local Government Area is considered the commercial centre of Niger State and it has continued to witness congestion which has turned the metropolis into a huge and chaotic market.
Adam UmarThe situation has been linked to Suleja’s proximity to Abuja as thousands of traders and buyers troop in daily.
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The situation is causing a lot hardship to motorists and even the traders and buyers as they carry out transactions amid chaos.
Many residents who spoke to Daily Trust about the development, linked the situation to what they termed as “improper regulation on the part of the authorities” who they accused of allowing roadside business operators within and around markets.
There are three major markets within the metropolis: Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) Market, Suleja Old Market and a vegetable market named Yara. All the remaining others are simply shopping complex facilities scattered across the town.
The congestion is worsening at a time when work on projects at two new markets under construction are slow, with one other one remaining seemingly abandoned.
The markets under construction are the Auwal Ibrahim Modern Market, Kwamba, which is privately owned, and the Suleja International Modern Market, Rafin-Sanyi, solely owned by the state government.
They are situated opposite each other on the outskirts of the town.
The third one is the Madalla Mordern Market being built under Public Private Partnership (PPP), also with the aim of decongesting the present market as every Thursday, the market day, is a nightmare to motorists that go or come from the Abuja or Kaduna axes.
While the three congested markets within Suleja are causing gridlock and other inconveniences, the one in Madalla had in addition to these led to many fatalities from either fire or crash disasters.
The market situated on two and half hectares presently lost its large portion to encroachment; as people built houses on the land.
Many petty traders who troop to the area from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and some other states display their wares along the Abuja-Kaduna Highway with little or no confrontation from the authorities.
The same goes for vehicles, especially trucks as they are parked indiscriminately thereby compounding the problem.
A resident, Abdullahi Aliyu, who commutes to Abuja on working days as a civil servant, lamented that as a result of the gridlock experienced around the Madalla market on Thursdays, he most times left his car at home.
Aliyu said, “At the time when it becomes necessary to use my car, I make sure I leave my home very early in the morning and opt for the Deidei/Dakwa route while returning in the evening despite other challenges associated with that route too.”
Some traders who spoke to Daily Trust said they paid between N200 and N300 to three tax groups on market days.
The tax groups are market authority, cleaners and council revenue officials.
A second hand clothes trader by the roadside said traders did not encounter any challenge from task force officials for staying by the roadside once they paid the charges.
At the Auwal Ibrahim Market which was commissioned in 2017 by the present council Chairman, Abdullahi Maje, as indicated on the administration block which was under lock and key, Daily Trust gathered that traders left the market citing lack of basic infrastructure and lack of patronage.
Responding about the development, the council Chairman, Abdullahi Shuaibu Maje, said all was ready to reopen the market and that all roadside traders would be mobilised into the facility.
Alhaji Maje explained that, “A joint task force would be inaugurated in January which will force traders around the IBB Market road passages to either relocate to the market or look for somewhere else.
“We would do all that is necessary to encourage them to move there as the market was completed and commissioned since 2017.”
At the Madalla Modern Market, the developer, Umar Ibrahim Dodo, who is the Principal Partner of Dodo Project Consultant Limited, said they were doing all that was possible to see to the completion of the phase one of the market by February, 2021.
He said the completion would pave way for the relocation of traders from the Madalla Market, and added that, “We made an assessment and got the number of people that operate by the roadside.
“God willing we would provide open spaces to accommodate them within two months from now.
“There is also a special consideration for them, where a certain deposit would be paid, while the remaining balance could be made in installments.”
However, the developer maintained that they expected the state government to fulfill its part of the agreement; which is to provide a two-way access road from the Abuja-Kaduna Highway into the market.
He further said, “We are going to mobilise our resources and also go on with the remaining part of the market which includes lock up shops, warehouses, livestock market, abattoir, banks, restaurants and public conveniences.
“The company will manage the market for 15 years before handing it over to Suleja Local Government Council.”
On the Suleja International Market, the Secretary to Niger State Government (SSG), Ahmed Matane, during an interview with Daily Trust when he visited the facility recently explained that the state government which solely built and owned the market following a bond taken from a financial institution would commission it within three months.
Assessing the level of the project, Matane said about 80 per cent of work had been done, adding that when commissioned, the market would transform the economy not only of the Suleja council, but the state government at large.
However, Daily Trust observed that there was no work going on at the site.