Residents doubtful as Lalong plans to rebuild Jos market | Dailytrust

Residents doubtful as Lalong plans to rebuild Jos market

Jos Main Market when it was newly constructed
Jos Main Market when it was newly constructed

Since 2002 when fire gutted the Jos Main Market in Plateau State, attempts by successive governments to rebuild it have not yielded any meaningful result; hence it still lies in ruins, 20 years after that unfortunate incident.

Different reasons abound on why efforts to rebuild the market have consistently failed, including partisan politics and related gimmicks.

There is also the issue of sabotage as it is believed that those who sold their shops to other businessmen and women but wanted them back contributed to burning down the market.

It is believed that politicians in the state use the market as another means of getting to power or tightening their grips as they will always promise to rebuild it.

Prior to the fire incident, the market represented many things, including standing as a centre of unity of sorts, as people from all spheres of life gathered to buy and sell, relate with one another, establish contacts and socialize, irrespective of ethno-religious backgrounds.

It was one of the most beautifully designed markets in the sub-Saharan Africa, with its unique architectural design and appealing aesthetics. Thousands of people from far and wide were attracted to the market for different reasons, but all these have become a thing of the past as the market has since become a shadow of itself since the fire incident.

The current state of Jos Main Market

However, trading still goes on by the roadside, median separators, while some people hawk on the road, a situation that usually causes heavy traffic gridlock and chaos.

Following the fire incident, many lives and means of livelihoods were lost. Many of the victims also developed high blood pressure and related ailments, among other issues.

A resident of Jos North Local Government Area who did not want his name mentioned said his relative lost everything to the fire incident and did not recover until he died.

He said his relative had three wives, but after the incident he could no longer take care of them, so he had to let two of them go. He later began to engage in another venture, which eventually cost him his life on his way to Lagos.

A rug seller along the Murtala Mohammed Way who identified himself as Auwal, expressed doubt that the market would be completed within the stipulated time as promised, saying that even if it is reconstructed, it would not be exactly the way it was.

He said it would require a lot of planning, time, dedication and determination for the market to be redesigned as it was.  

However, the Plateau State Executive Council last month approved the reconstruction of the market at its weekly meeting presided over by the governor.

The approval was sequel to a memo submitted by the Commissioner for Urban Development, Idris Gambo, who is supervising the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The memo proposed a public-private partnership to be funded by Jaiz Bank Nigeria Plc.

Briefing newsmen after the meeting, the Commissioner for Information and Communication, Dan Manjang, said the reconstruction of the market had been one of the priorities of the Lalong administration.

But the public relations officer of the Poultry Farmers Association in Plateau State, Nanji Gambo-Oke, expressed doubt about the sincerity of the government to execute the project, saying it is more like a political tool since it is coming at the tail end of the administration, after being in the saddle for about seven years.

She said there were many critical projects in the state seeking the attention of the government, such as the flyover bridge behind the National Library in Jos, yet it is intensifying efforts on the reconstruction of the market.

She said the people were wiser now and would no longer allow themselves to be deceived.

Also, in his view, the director of civil liberty organisations in the North Central, Comrade Steve Aluko, said the state government was not sincere, considering the fact that it has only few months to the end of its administration. 

He said the reason why the completion of the project is doubtful is because this is already an electioneering period and attention would be on political activities.

He, however, said the project could still be achieved if there was a strong political will, but added that it would be a miracle.

One of the victims of the fire incident who spoke with Daily Trust Saturday, Hamza Ahmed Ibrahim, said he had been in the market since 1995, and explained that since he lost his goods, things had been difficult for him. 

He said he usually sold kitchen utensils and still maintained that line of business, but since then, he has been moving from one market or spot to another.

He called on the government to consider them in the plan to rebuild the market as they would not want to lose their shops. 

Another victim, Auwal Rabiu Mai-cassette, said he was the biggest cassette seller in the market and the state by extension. He said he lost about N9million to the incident, and since then, he has been struggling. However, finally he ended up selling leather bags and sacks to keep his family going.

He also said that when he tried to stage a comeback, cassettes were already out of vogue, so he had to navigate to another line of business.

Also, Anthony Ugbonabo said he lost over N1milliion as he just came back from Lagos, where he went for shopping. 

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