News analysis by Nabilu Balarabe, News Agency of Nigeria
During the governorship electioneering campaigns, Mai Mala-Buni promised the people of Yobe that he would construct ultra-modern markets across the state if elected governor.
He said that he was aware that the state lacked befitting markets and the importance of modern markets in economic development.
It was, therefore, a promise fulfilled, when Gov. Mai Mala-Buni, in Oct. 2019, awarded a contract of N2.8 billion to Euro Afric Energy, for the construction of the Damaturu Ultra-Modern Market, with a completion period of 12 months.
The project entails construction of 500 shops, abattoir, administrative building, fencing, exit gates and gate houses, conveniences and vehicles’ parking space.
Others include concrete pavements, mosques, roads and drainages, electrification equipment, water supply, fire service and police outposts.
Gov. Mai Mala-Buni, at the ground breaking ceremony, noted that the market would boost economic growth and development in the state and the North-East.
“As you all know, markets are important building blocks of any prosperous economy.
“Buying and selling, the exchange of goods and services, always generate the momentum that results in more economic growth.
“ In keeping with our determination to further develop the state, we will continue to provide incentives for individuals and organisations to invest and launch new business ventures to grow the economy.
“I urge traders and marketers who are the major beneficiaries of this project to co-operate with the construction company, to ensure adherence to specifications and timely completion of the markets,” he said.
The market is one of the seven ultra-modern markets to be constructed in the state in fulfilment of the pledge made by the governor at his inaugural speech.
The others will be spread across Buni Yadi, Potiskum, Gashua, Geidam, Ngalda and Nguru, towns.
Alhaji Barma Shetima, Commissioner of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, said that the Damaturu Utra-Modern Market had reached between 65per cent to 70 per cent completion.
“ By the special grace of God, this project will be ready for commissioning by November,” he said.
Shetima said that the state had already paid N120 million as compensation to owners of shops and structures demolished to pave way for the project, adding that the balance of N66 million would soon be paid.
The commissioner added that N5 billion contracts for the construction of similar markets in Potiskum and Gashua were recently awarded in furtherance of the economic development agenda of the state government.
He said that Ponglomerape Nigeria Ltd. won the contract for the construction of Potiskum Modern Market at the cost of N2.6 billion, while that of Gashua was awarded to SabTech Towers Nig. Ltd at N2.4 billion.
The commissioner said that the government had released 30 per cent mobilisation fee to the contractors, adding that they had already commenced work.
He stressed that due process was followed in the award of the contracts, and urged the contractors to abide by the terms and conditions of the agreements.
Shetima said that a committee had been constituted to visit Potiskum and Gashua to identify genuine shops and house owners, who are entitled to compensation.
He said that government has also advertised for construction of Nguru Modern Market, adding that qualified companies are free to bid.
Mr Shafiuullah Mohammed, the site engineer of Damaturu Modern Market, put the length of the market at 9.1 hectares.
According to him, 1.4 km of roads, 69 drains, among others, will be built in the market.
He, however, urged the state government to compensate owners of some structures still lying on the site, so that they could be demolished.
Mohammed noted that delay in the removal of the structures may result to not meeting the October deadline for the inauguration of the market.
Some traders that spoke expressed gratitude to the state government for replacing the weekly Sunday market with the Damaturu Ultra-Modern Market.
Alhaji Manu Abubakar, a textile merchant, noted that the Sunday weekly market has operated for 28 years.
“The weekly market was established when Damaturu was just a local government headquarters under the old Borno State and operated on Sundays.
“The weekly nature of the market was partly responsible for the slow pace of economic growth in the state capital,” he said.
Alhaji Musa Hassan, a provision dealer appealed to the state government to ensure accelerated completion of the Damaturu Modern Market.
He said: “ At the moment, the main commercial area in Damaturu is ‘Bayan Tasha’ which houses few stores and is always congested.
“ I always get nervous manoeuvring the crowded mini market at Bayan Tasha for security reasons.
“ Therefore, the ongoing construction of the Damaturu Modern Market couldn’t have come at a better time.
“ I am calling on the government to prioritise this project which will accommodate hundreds of traders for daily transactions.’’
However, traders who lost their shops during the demolition have appealed to the state government to ensure due process is followed in allocation of shops, when the project is completed.
Alhaji Mohammad Kolo, a textile merchant, advised government to allocate the shops to full time traders who would put them to use.
“ The shops must not be given to politicians and civil servants who will become landlords by renting them out at exorbitant rates.
“ The implication of this is that the rent will reflect on prices of goods and services, with the ordinary people at the receiving end,“ Kolo said.
Usman Garba, a perishable items trader, also called on the state government to ensure that shop renting fees are affordable.
“ This administration has interest in developing commerce and trade; therefore, low income traders should be carried along,” Garba appealed.
Alhaji Suleiman Mustapha, also a trader, urged Gov. Mala-Buni to constitute a committee of persons with proven integrity to supervise allocation of the stores.
“Government must avoid the mistakes of past administrations in which politicians and civil servants were considered above traders, which resulted to the traders refusing to patronise the market,’’ Mustapha said.(NANFeatures)
*If used, please credit the writer as well as News Agency of Nigeria
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