Diring a meeting between his company, Chebez Global Venture Limited, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT); being a property developing company; members of Abuja chapter of the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTs) and; a financial institution, A.G. Mortgage Bank at the site of the ongoing construction of Apo Trade Centre, Apo, FCT, a permanent and conducive place of business transactions for the traders, the Managing Director cum Chief Executive Officer (MD/CEO) of the Chebez Global Venture Limited, Achebe G. Iweka explains to our Abuja correspondent, Abanobi Onyekachukwu, the move being made by his company in collaboration with the traders and the bank to give members of Abuja traders a place of business transactions: ApoTrade Centre. Excerpts.
The ability of most traders in Abuja the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to get a befitting, conducive and permanent place for business transactions have continued to pose serious problems to the government and the traders in the nation’s capital. As a result of this, most traders end up using areas either allocated out to individuals, companies or even government agencies for business transactions.
Converting of places not disgnated for buying snd selling of goods and services by traders has over the time been resulting into either demolition of the traders’ structures and wares or even ejecting and evacuating them therefrom. As a result of this, the affected traders end up either being stranded or even out of business entirely. It doesn’t only stop there, but also goes as far as affecting the families of affected traders. Due to the fact that an ideal mind is said to be the devil’s workshop, some who have been rendered ideal and stranded by the ugly happenings usually end up associating themselves with vices like criminal activities in order to make end meet.
Perhaps this move being made by Chebez Global Venture Limited, a company that is into property development, the bank and the traders may be the beginning of putting to an end this endless and ugly happenings.
But in a situation like this, it is one thing to come up with a beautiful and profitable venture and idea like this, which if realised will go a long way, but another for both the poor and the rich to have equal opportunities in benefitting from the up coming business edifice, like is obtainable in Sokoto and Kaduna where you can get a market that is always there to accommodate both the rich and the poor traders.
The CEO of the company, Chebez Global Venture Limited, Achebe G. Iweka when spoken to by our correspondent promised to ensure that both the poor and the rich who have interest in doing business in the up coming trade centre get allocation therefrom. Promising to complete the project within six months time, Iweka informed that he was motivated to go into the project to not only put to an end the continuous occupying of places that are not designated for business transactions, but also stop the continuous driving the traders from one undesignated place of business to the other. He however added that with the completion of the trade centre and getting more allocations of land from the government, causing of nuisance along the road of the FCT by some traders who couldn’t get shops from government authorised markets will be a thing of the past.
He said: “This project is all about getting a permanent plaxe of business for some of our traders who are scattered around Apo and environs in Abuja for a very long time, because as we all know, where they are now at the moment is a place a where the Federal Government (FG) has designated for expressway. These traders that are scattered all over there are blocking the FG from doing their job.
“They have been giving notices over a period of about five years now to vacate the place so that the construction of the road will be commenced. With the completion of this place and its occupance by the traders, the areas designated for expressway will be vacated and the FG will resume its construction of the expressway.”
Accusing him of having done nothing or little due to the fact that the work was started last year, the CEO of the property development company had this to say: “It will sound very funny, if you say nothing serious has happened here because if you look at where we are mow, you can see that we have already built it up to lintel level and we are just left with few works to continue with the first floor. So you shouldn’t say nothing happened. As you can see this pronect now, about N600m has been sunk into it at the moment and someone has sunk – in about N600m which reoresents more than a quater of the job.”
Asked when the project would be ready for the traders, as the project has so far consumed such huge amount of money, Achebe Gabriel Iweka had this to say: “As it is now, in the next six months, we are looking at giving the traders keys to their shops in these two blocks, while we move on to the other blocks, because the two blocks contain about 180 shops, while all the shops in all the blocks are 540. So in six months time, we shall hand over keys of these two blocks to the traders and continue in the remaining blocks.”
The poor are always cheated in everything and when the question of easy accessibility by the poor among the traders at the completion of the project came up, the MD said that the shops were mainly for the poor, explaining that most of the traders are poor ones. So maintaining that the poor wouldn’t be denied ownership of shops in the trade centre, he wondered why such question should arise, saying it is mostly designed for them.
“Infact you shouldn’t ask us if we have space for the poor, because this place is for the poor. Like I said, if you look at the Shoprite expressway in Apo here, you will see how the traders are scattered there on. You can see how they put up their wares; those are the poor people. If you are talking about the rich traders, you will be talking about those in the Shoprite mall and other malls in the FCT.
“These are the traders that have shacks and containers scattered all over there. So this place is meant for the poor ones and that it is why we are bringing in A. G. Mortgage Bank into the project to break down the payment in such a way that in every month, an average trader will be spending about less than N50, 000 to pay for his shop, while he is still trading in the shop,” he stated.
Responding to a question if they are in need of assistance from the government in the project, the MD said: “We are seriously in dire need of the government intervention. In fact, if I tell you what we passed through to get where we are now, you won’t believe me; in terms of approval of documents; in terms of giving us all it takes for the irastructure to commence. As you can see, there is no light here now and we have been begging them and we have done an applications to the Power Holdings to come here to give us a dedicated transformer like they promised us, but up till now, we haven’t seen any. In fact, as l am talking to you now, we have already put up in our bill to provide the transformer by ourselves, because we can’t be waiting for them forever. So we seriously need government intervention.
“This place is not even enough for these traders. If the government can come – in, in what we are doing here, they should give us another place to continue, so that all these traders they are pushing out of the expressway will have an alternative place for their business transactions. We have been appealing and applying for new place and if you go to Abuja Geographical Information System (AGIS) now, you will see my applications for properties to develop for this traders to move into, because it is one thing to chase them out of where they are and another to put them somewhere.”
In confirmation, the chairman of the traders in FCT, Amb Prince Edozie Ugwu said: “We are here to inspect the site and know how far the work has gone. We also have meeting with the developer and the bank and we thank God that the work is in progress. We asked the developers to expedite action in the work, so as to commission the two blocks in six months time for the traders to move in and the remaining blocks can be completed in 12 months time.”
When asked, the chairman said the work was actually delayed by the lockdown, but was quick to add that they came to the site to ensure that the work is continued. Responding to more questions, Prince Edozie Ugwu said: “All the traders must not get shops here. Those who came first will get shops first, while those who couldn’t get here will get from other sites we have in the FCT, because we have other projects that are ongoing. The way we are doing it, both the poor and the rich have equal opportunity to get shop here, because all you need to do is to pay 10% of the total money and the remaining 90% paid by the bank.”
Advising the traders to key into the project, Ugwu therefore informed that the biggest, the middle and the smallest sizes of the shops are being given out at the price of N5.5m , N3.5m and N2.5m respectively.
The woman leader of the traders in FCT, Amb (Mrs) Rachael Adewumi when interviewed said that the project would favour the women, just as she added that the women were the major traders. Advising the women to key into the project, due to the fact that the bank are helping them to acquire the shops, Dr Rachael Adewumi however said any woman who gets it will have a conducive okace of business. Responding to more questions, Amb Adewumi said that at NANTs, there was nothing like marginalization of the women, even as he hailed the FCT chairman for his habit of accommodating all.
Dr Adewumi believed that if everybody paid the 10% as agreed, nothing will delay the project, just as she informed that the developers promised to hand the shops over in six months’ time. Dr Rachael Adewumi however believed that fulfillment of the promises between all the stakeholders will go a lonh way.