Aba: Economic Hub In Neglect | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Metro, Ndigbo, Region

Aba: Economic Hub In Neglect

Posted: Jul 13, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Emeka Okafor Aba

Aba is a city and in the southeast of Nigeria and the main trading centre in Abia State. Upon the creation of Abia state in 1991, Aba was divided into two local government areas namely; Aba south and Aba North. Aba south is the main city centre and the heart beat of Abia State, south-east Nigeria.

Aba Expressway by Faulks Road Junction, taken over by heaps of refuse.

Aba Expressway by Faulks Road Junction, taken over by heaps of refuse.

According to 2014 population estimate, the city is estimated to have a population of about 1,277,300 made up of both indigenes and non indigenes from other parts of the Country.

It could be recalled that one major electioneering campaign promises made by various governorship candidates of political parties during the last concluded governorship election in Abia State was the promise to improve the already dilapidated infrastructure and recreate the abundant human ingenuity within the city of Aba, the commercial hub centre of the State.

However, with the swearing in of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate at the election, Dr. Victor Okezie Ikpeazu as the fourth democratically elected governor of the State, what has been on the minds of Aba residents has been, if the administration of Dr. Ikpeazu has the political will to confront the mind bulging problem that past administrations were unable to deal with.

Regrettably, many residents of the commercial nerve centre of the State are of the opinion and view that past administrations in the State including the erstwhile administration of Dr Theodore Orji did little or nothing to improve the standard of living of residents as well as give attention to the poor infrastructure and the human and material development which the city is endowed.

Investigation conducted by Daily Independent indicates that among the teething problem of Aba include flooding, blockage of drainage system, poor sanitary conditions of the City, perceived multiple taxation on traders and residents, insecurity, inadequate electricity supply and cluster of moribund government and privately owned enterprises.

One of such government owned enterprise is the Enyinmba Hotels it inherited from the old Imo State which at the present is being inhabited by squatters a situation which is at present giving the Aba Chambers of Commerce, Mines, Agriculture major concern as why such investment has been abandoned by past administration in the State. Another abandoned government project is the Metallurgical Complex which also was inherited from the administration of former governor of Old Imo State, late Sam Mbakwe, if it had been completed would give the needed back bone to the full support to Allied and metal fabricators that are bound within the City.

Further investigations revealed that there are other industrial developmental projects that have been earmarked for the city of Aba under the State Industrial Development Blueprint designed to boost commerce and industrialization of the state.

Under the Blueprint, an International Industrial Market which is to be located in Osisioma area of Aba/Owerri Expressway  that is to built in an estimated land mass of about 100 hectares has been conceptualised as a specialized market that would greatly divert attention from the Aba metropolis thereby aiding the decongestion of the City.

Another project under the blue print is the Umukalika Industrial Cluster that is located at Umukalika in Obingwa local government area but within the Aba axis is designed to provide relocation facilities for Leather/ garment workers presently operating in residential accommodation within Aba township and its environs. The Ovom Industrial Workshop Estate is designed to relocate Auto-Technicians and Allied Workers operating in Aba metropolis, Ogbor Hill and environs. The planned Industrial Workshop location covers an area of 8.1 hectares of land and will accommodate various artisans such as Auto technicians, Welders, Spare Part Dealers and related services.

On completion of this project, the resultant mass movement of these industrial workshop operators will decongest the urban Centre of Aba as well as enhancing the aesthetics of Aba and environs. It could be recalled that the immediate administration of Chief Theodore Orji, the State had disclosed that it identified 1800 buildings built on drainages in Aba, the commercial nerve centre of the State.

While some residents of the city are of the view that the administration of the immediate past governor of the State, Chief Theodore Orji had no political will to confront the challenges that face the city, for the immediate past Commissioner for Information and Strategy under former governor Orji, Dr. ACB Agbazuere, the major challenge was the magnitude of the challenges which was beyond the State government that requires the intervention of the Federal government and other International Intervention Agencies.

According to a resident, Mr. Ezekiel Ucheoma who is a commercial Tricycle operator said the worst hit is the infrastructure of the city especially, the poor road network.

Mr. Ucheoma recalled that almost all the existing roads in the city were constructed during the tenure of late Chief Sam Mbakwe, the former governor of old Imo State, “If you look at these roads today, go from Ikot Ekpene Road to Ogbor Hill to Ariaria Road, they are all death traps and continued to be a source of worry to motorists.

The State governor, Dr. Ikpeazu had in his recent media briefing in Aba before the inauguration of his administration gave an insight into what would be his mission in Aba disclosed that his major priority would be to decongest the city, resuscitation of moribund privately and government owned industries that dot the commercial nerve centre of Aba.

“My vision for Aba, where manufacturing of leather products like handbags, garments and all that, will take the front burner from day one and it must happen in the logical and prepared fashion, not the haphazard way it is being done today.

“We will think of equipment that will lift the burden and hardship of making of making one thousand shoes, instead of using two months to make one thousand shoes, we want to make sure we are going to produce one thousand shoes in an hour.

“We are going to bring in equipment that produce the products in such a way that be finished and evacuated and marketed in Paris or England, for us to do all that, the roads have to be taken care of , so, our economic base must  come first , then the roads that will push the economy will then come in.

On his road map on tackling problem of roads, Dr. Ikpeazu noted, “We expect that generally speaking all those pot holes around Aba will be a thing of the past in my time

“We expect to do a ring road that will decongest the city centre, that will pass through about seven local governments starting from Ugwunnagbo were it will interject from the Expressway, we have to do a third bridge from Aba River and it will enter in some parts of Obingwa then take it round to Ossioma between Aro-Ngwa junction.

“The idea is to allow the city to develop horizontally, in a way that the city centre will be decongested, the old fashion of resurfacing the roads should be taken for granted because, I do not like to campaign with such things even a twelve year old boy will do a resurfacing of roads, the most important thing is that we will build a strong foundation for our Medium and Small Enterprises in Aba that will employ thousands of people

“Also, we will think of how bring back to life some moribund companies like the Textile Mill in Aba and those you see around Owerrinta axis of about five six companies there that are not functioning, we are going to speak with the owners of those companies on how to bring them back on stream”.

Meanwhile, Governor Ikpeazu has flagged off the rehabilitation and reconstruction of roads in Aba beginning with award of contract for the reconstruction of seven roads in Aba said the measure is to give the City a face-lift with a firm promise to tackle the poor sanitary condition of the commercial city.

The State governor who used to forum to make a vow that his administration would step on many toes while discharging his duties for the development of Aba and other parts of the State. The roads which are to be completed within the first 100 days of his administration include the Umuocham road, old express, Ukaegbu and Ehere roads.

The rest are Umuola road, Kamalu road and Faulks road by Ariara.

Speaking while flagging off the roads, the Governor assured that quality job will be done on the roads while street lights will be installed on them.