One of West Africa’s largest markets is being washed away
Formerly one of the most important markets in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, Ariaria International market has in recent times continued to suffer huge infrastructural shortage caused by years of neglect. Despite the role of this market in the growth and development of Aba, a city in the southeastern Nigerian state Abia, it is fast becoming a road less travelled by many.
The market is badly flooded with stagnant water due to poor drainage system and bad roads; circumstances which are hardly favourable for intending customers, let alone shop owners who are now being forced to abandon their shops.
Ariaria which is home to the largest shoemaking collection in Africa serves Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Rivers states. It took a while for people to warm up to the swampy location on the outskirts of Aba, but the market grew into an ideal stop for virtually anything at good prices. Buyers come from as far as East Africa to get their goods from a market showing great potential to become Africa’s largest. However, the potential is eroding as the market is gradually being washed away starting with the main entrance which has been in bad shape for years.
The government is yet to rehabilitate the roads leading to Aba, hence buyers look for alternative markets with motorable roads. In November last year, the commissioner of works, Mr Longman Nwachukwu, said the state government had set up an intervention committee to work on the roads in two phases till the rains subside. He also explained that the state was working on the Aba–Ikot Ekpene federal road, a key link-road to Aba; a route for traders from Akwa-Ibom and Cross River states heading to Ariaria International Market.
Traders warned that Ariaria Intl market would gradually be destroyed by the poor drainage system and bad roads. But even though there have been ‘attempts’ to resolve these challenges, the government will need to act with immediate effect in order to save a market which contributes significantly to Nigeria’s consumer goods imports.
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