By Anayo Okoli Ugochukwu Alaribe
ABA—Abia State government, yesterday, said it would Monday, August 8, begin the enforcement of the ban on street trading in the state and advised traders to relocate to approved sites, even as it extended the operational hours of tricycle (Keke) operators in the state from 7pm to 9pm.
Chairman of the Abia State Market Development Committee, ASMDC, Mr. Solomon Nwaigwe who stated this while addressing phone and accessories dealers at St. Michael’s Road, Aba, said the three months grace period given to the phone dealers to relocate to the Aba Mega Mall would not be extended as enforcement of the order would commence next Monday and warned that defaulters would be prosecuted.
Nwaigwe who stressed the dangers of street trading, hinted that the state government had mapped out sites for all service providers in the city to have a central market as obtainable in other parts of the world.
He claimed the state government had provided conducive environment with regular power supply and security at the Aba Mega Mall and ensured that traders would pay a monthly rent of N5,000 and N120,000, annually, for bigger shops.
According to him, “Abia State government is not going back on its resolve to end street trading in the state. On this, we are appealing to the phone and accessories dealers at St.Michaels road to relocate to the Aba Mega Mall where a conducive business environment has been provided for them at affordable prices. My Committee will ensure that all dealers on phones and accessories relocate to Aba Mega Mall to ensure a centralized market in Aba.”
Meanwhile, the government has extended the operational hours of tricycle (Keke) operators in the state from 7pm to 9pm.
The Government had last year restricted their operation to between 6am and 7pm, accusing them of using their tricycles to commit crimes.
Before the restriction, crime rates in Aba and Umuahia rose astronomically and there cases when crimes, including kidnapping and robbery were linked to operators, prompting the Government to ban their operation beyond 7pm.
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu who announced the extension in Aba at a solidarity rally organized in his honour by the Abia State Amalgamated Tricycle Operators Association, ASATOA,, said the initial restriction to 7pm was due to the increase in crimes linked to the operators.
The Governor however tasked operators to get rid of the bad eggs among them, promising that government would stop the imposition of multiple levies on the union.