Last year and the past few weeks have not really being a smooth ride for traders in Ebonyi, especially those who ply their trade within the Abakpa market. This is as a result of the government’s development plan, which involved the relocation of the Abakpa market to the more befitting ultramodern international market built by the state government.
Why this is a laudable feat achieved by the state, it has not really sat well with some of the traders, who due to one reason or the other made known their reservations for the supposed move. This later culminated in the early weeks of February into a staged protest, where about hundreds of market women trooped into the pastoral centre to lay their complaints before the chief shepherd of Abakaliki catholic diocese and subsequently they moved to the government house to lay bare their concerns.
The imposing ultramodern international market has really been a major talk in the nearby states. But as it is said, it is he who wears the shoe that knows where it pinches the most. Some of the complaints allegedly laid by the women included; the exorbitant price of the shops in the new market, which cannot be afforded by some of them especially the widows, the lack of due process in allocating the shops, as some of them complained that some of the shops were given out to those who didn’t previously ply their trade within Abakpa market, which was as they alleged contrary to the agreement they had among others.
While these reasons could easily be adjudged as honest, they are not actually sufficient, this does not however make them unimportant. The government, we believe, probably have the interest of the traders at heart, by moving them to a better and a standard marketing ambience.
For one who has visited Abakpa, especially around meat market, one would see how clustered that particular area is. The sweaty friction of bodies; the putrid smells of ill- disposed refuse etc. these are enough to prove and convince one that the government’s intention in relocating the market to a more conducive environment isn’t borne out of bad will, but a sincere intention.
However, the government should equally make sincere efforts and be considerate in the face of the people’s plight. That even as they have been given ultimatum, the government should make sure that everything follows the due process so that no one feels cheated. The government should equally try to subsidize the rent or the cost price of the shops, so that it could be affordable by some of the traders. This is because some of them cannot even realize the cost for the shops with their wares, even in the next two years.
Even though the government had said, that the new site is large enough to accommodate everyone, and those without shops can build theirs. They are to build according to government’s standards. How possible is it for one who could not afford an already built shop to build his with the same standard of that which he couldn’t afford? The government should endeavour to look into this matter closely, especially as regards the widows who feed from hand to mouth, so that even if not all gets full bread, they can at least go with half, rather than none at all.
It is obvious that in a situation like this, some people have to bear the brunt of its all, for nothing good comes easy. After all, it is said, no pain no gain. As the state is gradually putting up a new look, it may not actually be a smooth run, some people may be kept uncomfortable for a while. Should that stop the good works? No, of course, does that undermine the feelings and comfort of the citizens? No. The changes or developments, even as they give the state a new look, should not set sail without the baggage of empathy, less what they build become beauty without souls.
Those whom may in one way or the other affected by this change, should rather see it as a price that ought to be paid and accept it in good faith. Others have actually paid the prize; worthy of note is Okpufu village in Nsulakpa community of Izhiangbo in local government, who had to leave their ancestral home, for the state university. Though compensated, it is not however that easy to relocate, when you have called a particular place home, it means your whole life. But that’s a price that must be paid. Those who in one way or the other be affected by this relocation, shouldn’t hesitate to see it as such. God bless Ebonyi state.