There are growing concerns among shop owners following the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) concession to developers for rebuilding and management of three markets in Abuja through the Abuja Investments Company Limited (AICL), the investment and development holding company of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA).
The Zone 3 Neighbourhood Shopping Centre, Wuse; Area 10 UTC Market, Garki; and Abuja Fish Market, Kado, have been earmarked for the first phase of the project; each to be handled by a separate developer.
The Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (GMD/CEO) of AICL, Abubakar Sani Pai, told Daily Trust that the action became necessary as all the structures in the affected markets were either overdue for renovation or needed remodelling in order to meet the present status of the nation’s capital city.
Mr Pai said if the projects were successfully executed, many shop tenants would become shop owners as two-storey buildings would replace the present bungalows in the markets.
Most of the shop owners interviewed by Daily Trust expressed worry that giving out the facilities to developers would automatically see them parking out as they might not afford to buy the shops at the developers’ rates.
A shop owner at UTC, where most printing businesses take place, David Awo, said a notice board indicating the market’s rebuilding even when they were in talks with the government and Urban Shelter was worrisome.
Awo said, “I have been paying all my dues to government. I wonder why the government would not contact us if they need any remodelling. The shops are to be resold at exorbitant prices beyond our reach, and again one has to continue paying the same service charge and other charges to government.”
Daily Trust reports that the development has led to divisions among the traders’ union of the Neigbourhood Shopping Centre, Wuse.
The Chairman of the market’s union, Nkonkwo Ifeanyi, is said to have issues with the majority of the traders over the allegation of him compromising their cause for his gain, a situation which led to the “election” of Okafor Joseph to replace him.
The new factional leader, Joseph, told Daily Trust that a notice was issued to them by a developer that temporary shops would be built on the market’s parking space in three weeks for them to relocate to before work for rebuilding the market would commence.
However, Joseph said, “All of a sudden, the developer started supplying blocks and sharp sand into the market last Sunday. When my attention was drawn to it, I immediately called a source at the AICL, but they didn’t give me any convincing response.”
Usman Kabir is the Managing Director (MD) of SY Engineering Limited, whose company got FCDA’s approval to redevelop the market through PPP.
Kabir said the company had series of meetings with the market union’s executives, who according to him, forwarded different demands, including provision of the temporary market for consideration, to which most had been granted.
He explained that he used Sunday to start supplying working materials, being the day when the facility was busy-free, lamenting that about half of the blocks he supplied had been destroyed by some traders.
Daily Trust gathered that following the development, the police sealed the market for some time, before it was re-opened.
At the Fish Market, Kado, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT), Isa Abdullahi, described their situation as quite different, having gotten most of their alloted spaces to be developed by themselves.
Abdullahi said about four months back, AICL contacted them on the issue, but that it was yet to be resolved.
He said, “There are certain issues regarding our market that we tried to draw their attention to. These include the letters of shop allocation – where majority have been given space allocations – with exception of few. We built our shops individually. There was also the agreement written on the titles that we should be fully owners of the shops for 50 years before thinking of any possible renewal.”
He added that the attention of the FCT minister’s delegation to the market had been informed about the situation, and that it would be good to get the authorities rethink their plan.