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Confusion Mars Ikoku Traders Relocation

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Suspense, anxiety and confusion have taken over at the ever-busy Ikoku Motor Spare Parts Market in Port Harcourt as dealers and customers are now deeply apprehensive over uncertainties surrounding the new date for the proposed relocation of the market to the permanent site at Iriebe in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State.

A cross section of the dealers and their customers, who spoke in an exclusive interview with The Tide, recently, expressed worry over the delayed relocation and the lack of information on the new date to commence movement to the Rivers State Government-backed permanent site.

A dealer, Mr Ben Eze, told The Tide that the traders had not yet been briefed on a definite date the government had set for their relocation to Iriebe.

Eze said that most of the traders were not happy over the suspense that has  characterised their relocation, saying that they were excited about the movement to the proposed permanent site.

According to him, the uncertainty has affected their businesses in many ways as they are hardly relaxed while carrying on with their trade, following harassments by the police, officials of the Rivers State Traffic Management Agency (TIMARIV), sanitation and waste management authorities.

Another dealer, who simply gave his name as Mr Henry, agrees with Eze that they have not been properly briefed on a new relocation date, and appealed to the state government to address all outstanding issues that could facilitate their movement, fix a new relocation date, and conduct proper orientation and mobilisation of the traders.

He said that if the traders receive definite information on the planned relocation, they would adjust themselves to the realities, and prepare for the movement to Iriebe, saying that for most of them, Ikoku was not conducive for their business.

But the traders also expressed reservations over the status of their union, saying that their leadership was in complete disarray as joint meetings have allegedly not been held in the last six years.

A customer, Mr Wisdom Mark, said he was ignorant of the proposed relocation of the market, and urged government to fast-track the development of the permanent site to ensure that the traders relocate as quickly as possible.

Mark said that the relocation has become increasingly expedient because of the frequent harassment of customers by officials of various government agencies and the traders, who complain of lack of space for parking.

Another customer, Mrs Alice Umeh, lamented the ordeal faced by customers who throng the market on a daily basis to procure one spare part or the other due to lack of space for car park, arguing that apart from the fact that the police, TIMARIV and sanitation officials harass customers, traffic is also another issue around the Ikoku precinct.

For Sunday Alabi, another customer, the relocation to Iriebe is long overdue, urging government to put every mechinary in motion to complete the relocation process, to avoid those who manage to find space at any of the parking lots within the area, having to be dispossessed of the little they came to the market with.

The customers, agreed that a lot of advantages abound if the relocation was perfected, saying that since the government was driving the project under a public private partnership arrangement, it is possible that the new site would be more convenient and expose the customers to less risk.

Fielding questions on the delay in the relocation to Iriebe, the Port Harcourt Motor Parts Dealers’ Unions, said that their members are desirous of moving to the new site as soon as it is ready for occupation.

The unions, comprising motor spare parts, mechanics and technicians, said that their position informed the move in 2002/2003, which resulted in the acquisition of land at Aluu for their members to relocate.

President, Motor Spare Parts, Automobile and Technicians Union, Mr Maxwell Anuonye, said that their desire was strengthened when the present administration of Governor Chibuike Amaechi intervened and began driving the process of relocating the traders to Iriebe, instead.

He said that to give effect to that move, about 25.11 hectares of land was given to the union after a memorandum of understanding incorporating all stakeholders in the auto business was signed between the Rivers State Government and the union on June 2, 2010.

Anuonye said that the official survey of the land under the public private partnership (PPP) had been concluded by both the union and the Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority (GPHCDA), adding that the business plan and other requirements were being processed.

He stated that the traders were particularly interested in relocating to Iriebe under the new arrangement, saying that, “it is a dream we had on our own before the intervention of the state government”.

Anuonye said that the present location of Ikoku market was too congested for the traders, and was constituting serious challenge in terms of parking space for both traders and customers, saying that traders have been having a lot of problems with environmental sanitation and TIMARIV officials over parking spaces.

According to him, a lot of customers have resorted to going to Aba to procure spare parts they would easily have bought at Ikoku because of the acute lack of parking spaces and the risk of confrontation with environmental sanitation and TIMARIV officials, noting that the Ikoku traders were not happy with the continued loss of customers to Aba traders because of space constraint.

He said they were 100 per cent‘ready to relocate to the new site provided by the state government, adding that in line with the MoU, government was supposed to provide the land while the traders raise money to develop it for their occupation.

Anuonye regretted that the pace of development of the land was slow, and appealed to the GPHCDA to hasten the process to facilitate the relocation, because according to him, the original development plan for the land was to last for 18 months.

While acknowledging that the union was part of the problem because of the delay in delivering a business plan involving all the unions under the new umbrella association, he added that as soon as the necessary documents were ready and signed, the union would deliver the plan to GPHCDA to enable the authority give the go ahead for the development of the ultra-modern market.

“We cannot lose anything at Ikoku when we relocate to Iriebe, although some of our members own the shops they presently operate from. But we don’t mind if government would demolish them when we relocate because we know that the government might pay compensation for the shops.

“We are ready to relocate, but we must relocate to Iriebe as a group, not as individuals.”

But in her reaction, Sole Administrator, Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority, Dame Aleruchi Cookey-Gam, blamed the delay in the relocation of Ikoku spart parts market to its permanent site at Iriebe on the failure of the group to conform with the terms of agreement reached with government in 2010.

Cookey-Gam, who spoke in an exclusive interview in her office in Port Harcourt, recently, said, “government reached an agreement with them that it will provide the land while the union will develop the land,” but regretted that “after several meetings with the union comprising spare parts dealers, mechanics and technicians, they have not presented any business plan that specifies clear project financing startegy.”

According to Cookey-Gam, the deadline given the traders has since elapsed, while government has commenced the provision of infrastructure at the site with design works being fast tracked.

The administrator explained that with the expiration of the deadline given to the traders to relocate, it was certain that they will move, and advised the union to “put their house in order and produce the business plan for the market development as quickly as possible to avoid eviction” from their present location.

She said that the government was presently evaluating the design and scope of the project to know the actual financial implication before kick-starting the tender process in line with the due process mechanism of government on the execution of any new projects.

 

Eunice Choko-Kayode & Beemene Taneh

A cross section of women celebrating the Mothers Day at St Thomas Anglican Church, Diobu, Port Harcourt, yeserday.

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Wike, Pride Of Nigeria’s Democracy, NUJ Affirms

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The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has described Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, as an exhibit of pride to democracy in Nigeria.
The NUJ also noted that Wike has redefined governance through demonstration of democracy in action with his service to Rivers people.
The National leadership, the 36 State Executives, and the FCT, including members of the NUJ across the country made the assertion in Port Harcourt during the inspection tour led by the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim of both completed and ongoing projects being undertaken by the governor in the state.
The National President of the NUJ, Chief Chris Isiguzo, said the 1999 Constitution bestows on the media the responsibility to hold governments accountable to the people.
Isiguzo posited that having placed the projects side-by-side with the expectations of the populace, it was obvious that the governor’s investment in critical infrastructure would remain lifelong empowerment tools for the people.
”We were at the Mother and Child Hospital. We took time to look at the facilities there. That can easily be said to be first of its kind in the country.
”At the much-talked about Real Madrid Football Academy, where they are going to train the young ones, we saw that they have good facilities. At the moment, they have also offered admission to 140 pupils.
”That’s also to catch-them-young, and I want to believe that by the time this kind of resources is continuously invested in sports development in Nigeria, it’s just a matter of time, it will gain its pride of place in sporting world.”
On her part, the National President of Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Mrs Ladi Bala said that the projects she had seen were entirely unique, unprecedented and very uncommon in the country.
According to Bala, the Emmanuel Chinwenwo Aguma Judges’ Quarters stand out as first of its kind in Nigeria, with its serene ambiance that would translate into enhancing the productivity of judges of Rivers origin.
”I believe that democracy is at work in Rivers State, and, for Rivers people, I want to congratulate them, and to say, this is the true reflection of what democracy should be across board.
”I want to call on other governors across the country to borrow a leaf from what the governor of Rivers State is doing. Wike is working, and we are very proud of what we have seen here”, she added.
In his reaction, the National Internal Auditor of NUJ, Muhammad Tukur, stated that Wike was a committed leader with the vision of uplifting the standard of life of his people.
Tukur, who expressed gratitude to Wike for his support to the NUJ National Conference in Port Harcourt, said that his show of love for journalists confirms his commitment to the welfare of the people.
On his part, Chairman of Oyo State Council of the NUJ, Comrade Ismail Ademola Babalola, asserted that the Mother and Child Hospital, and the Real Madrid Football Academy were part of projects Governor Wike was using to secure a productive future for the youths of the state because they meet global standard.
Also speaking, the Vice President of NUJ North Central Zone, Chief Wilson Bako, commended the quality of the various roads and flyover bridges constructed in the Port Harcourt metropolis to make the city tourists’ destination of choice.
In the same vein, the Vice Chairman of NUJ in Jigawa State, Comrade Larai Musa, said she has confirmed all that the news media had carried about Wike and his projects’ mantra, and asserted that it was leaders like him that were needed at the national level.
Also, Comrade Ikechukwu Ordu of Enugu State Council of the NUJ noted the need for other political leaders to emulate Wike in providing dividends of democracy to Rivers people and changing the fortunes of his state.
Also from the Enugu State Council of the NUJ, Comrade Ugochukwu Chukwudieke, said she was completely overwhelmed by what Wike has done in constructing the Okoro-Nu-Odo Flyover Bridge, Rumuogba Flyover Bridge, and Rebisi Flyover Bridge delivered within one year.
Chukwudieke also praised the quality of work on the Rumuola Flyover Bridge, Ogbun-nu-Abali Flyover Bridge, GRA Junction Flyover Bridge, and the Orochiri-Wurukwo flyover project at Waterlines Junction by Aba Road.

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Stop Constitution Review, CNG Tasks NASS

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The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), yesterday, called on the National Assembly to suspend the review of the 1999 Constitution, describing it as ill-timed and uncalled for, particularly in the face of the growing agitation for Nigeria’s break-up.

It also urged the National Assembly to invoke the doctrine of necessity to organize a Biafra referendum as the final step towards the separation of the Igbo from the rest of Nigeria.

This was part of the presentation which CNG made before the leadership of the National Assembly against the backdrop of the disturbances created by certain interest groups in the South-East, in the form of the agitation for a separate state of Biafra.

Briefing journalists in Abuja after the presentation, CNG Spokesman, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, noted that the Biafra agitation in the South-East had turned violent, alleging that the aim of the unrest in the region was to instigate reprisals by northerners against people from other parts of the country.

He said, “We demanded the immediate suspension of the ongoing exercise for the review of the 1999 Constitution and to concentrate on the first priority of determining who and what actually constitutes Nigeria as a nation in the present circumstance in which the Igbo, by taking up arms against the Nigerian state for the third time, have foreclosed every hope for the rest of us to continue coexisting with them as one nation.

“In order to achieve the final separation of the Igbo from the rest of Nigeria, we also demanded the NASS to organize a referendum by seeking the cover of the same Doctrine of Necessity invoked by Nigeria’s federal parliament that paved way for former President Goodluck Jonathan’s takeover by declaring the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua unfit.

“We further demanded NASS to prevail on the Federal Government of Nigeria to invite the United Nations as well as the African Union and ECOWAS, to initiate the process of self-determination to mandate the Biafrans out of the Nigerian union by leveraging on the several relevant international treaties and conventions to which Nigeria is a signatory.

“Today, everyone can see that the diabolical scheme planned and exhibited in the actions and clamours of IPOB, supported morally and politically by the vast majority of the pliant and affrighted Igbo elites, politicians, traditional rulers, business persons, and the larger population of this ethnic group has pushed Nigeria to the precipice.

“We are convinced that this renewed violent determination of the Igbo to see through the secession of the South-East from Nigeria is now real and cannot be avoided or deferred any longer without terrible consequences.

“In order to avoid such mishaps and unnecessary devastation on all sides, particularly the South-East whose leaders and agitators are now bent on driving it over the brink into a catastrophe, CNG is of the view that resort to available means of actualising the separation of the South-East from the rest of Nigeria is today a vital task that must be undertaken by all.”

Suleiman also argued that in order to prevent a descent into another civil war, and to forestall mass killings and untold sufferings, CNG has committed to the call for a referendum that will finally separate the South-East from Nigeria.

He added, “In this connection, we are hoping the NASS will come up with a framework to be agreed upon in the course of the referendum and its final implementation in the South-East or any enclave that wishes to secede from Nigeria.

All identified indigenes (Igbos) of the enclave or entity that called for secession (South-East) must leave the territory of Nigeria and assemble in their designated enclave for the purpose of the exercise.

“The outcome of the referendum shall be final, irreversible and shall not be reviewed or reconsidered for any other reasons. Citizens of the breakaway enclave shall be deprived of any automatic rights to return to the territory of the rump Nigeria, or to be admitted to live in any of its parts.

“We are aware that all this while, the North continued to bear the brunt of the violent agitations for secession with equanimity, stoical calm and resignation.

“Therefore, as the CNG recommits to the pursuit of a final constitutional separation with Biafra, we urge the North to remain the bulwark of respect, integrity, dignity, decorum, tradition, decency, morality, civilization, etiquette, good behaviour, politeness, accommodation, and all other positive traits with the assurance that the good will ultimately prevail over evil.”

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PDP’s Performance Has Diminished APC In Rivers, Wike

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike says with what his administration has achieved, and is still doing, in terms of delivery of critical infrastructure, nobody in the state needs to talk about the All Progressives Congress (APC) anymore.
The governor made the assertion at the flag-off of construction work of the Ogbum-nu-Abali/Eastern-Bypass Road project, yesterday, in Port Harcourt.
Wike explained that the previous administration politicised the reconstruction of the Ogbum-nu-Abali/Eastern-Bypass road and actually failed to accomplish it.
The governor said he has defied those political intrigues, and has genuinely interfaced with the people to understand the economic benefits a dualised road in the city centre could attract.
According to Wike, with the level of infrastructural development around Ogbum-nu-Abali, there would be a spike in the value of property and enhanced economic activities.
“I know that the people of Ogbum-nu-Abali resisted the dualisation of this road because of lack of information. When I met with the community leaders, they said look, they have houses bequeathed to them by their grandparents.
“I told them that whether they like it or not, if I don’t dualise it today, tomorrow somebody else will do it. And you don’t know who is coming.
“So, it’s better done now that I am a governor than when you don’t know who is coming. And the economic benefit of this road is too much, which you may not understand now.”
Speaking further, Wike stated that the entire Old Government Residential Area (GRA) has been given a facelift with quality road projects.
“This is the only place remaining. Old GRA cannot be like that and then we will leave this place. We have done the Rebisi flyover, the Oru-Abali flyover. There is no way this place will not be dualised at all. It’s not possible.”
Performing the flag-off, the member representing Port Harcourt Federal Constituency 1, Hon Kenneth Anayo Chikere, said the formal flag-off ceremony has ended several speculations about the possibility of executing the project.
“This day witnesses the eventual actualisation of the Ogbum-nu-Abali/Eastern Bypass Road project. Thank you governor for the Ogbum-nu-Abali/Eastern Bypass Road project!
“Thank you governor, for the Ogbum-nu-Abali internal roads, completed, commissioned and profitably in use. Thank you for being a worthy son and governor! Thank you for the exemplary leadership, the infrastructural and human development in all sectors.”
The Rivers State Commissioner for Works, Elloka Tasie-Amadi, while giving the project description said the dualisation of the Ogbum-nu-Abali Road will extend all the way to the ongoing Eastern Bypass dualisation.
“Today, Ogbum-nu-Abali Road is a 7.3m wide single carriage way, with a cross section of approximately 8.5m width inclusive of the drains on either side of the road. After reconstruction and project completion, we will have a cross section of 18.1m width on the axis extending to Eastern Bypass and 17.35m width along Ogbum-nu-Abali Road.
“This cross section is made up of 2 carriageways, each measuring 7.3m wide, both of which will be separated by a median of 1.5m width along the extension to Eastern Bypass and a median of 750cm width along Ogbum-nu-Abali Road.
It includes 1m wide drains on either side of the road, and of course, street lighting to ease movement at night as well as enhance security.
The commissioner said, the project like many others commissioned or ongoing will be built to design specifications aimed at guaranteeing minimum life-span requirement of 30 years.

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