Prior to the allocation of the markets stalls and lock up shops built at the Rumuwoji Mile One Ultra Modern market by the Rivers State Government, the committee in charge of the allocation had a harcullen task controlling the surging crowd during the week long exercise which started Monday February 24, 2020 at Obi Wali conference center, Port-Harcourt.
Speaking with newsmen at the venue, the Chairman of the Allocation Committee and Commissioner for Housing, Elder Chinedu Tasie Nwobueze explained that the exercise has been segmented into three sections including verification of the original shop owners of the burnt market; the interested general public who of course must have their voters cards, identity cards and must be resident in the state, while the last exercise will be the balloting proper, possibly next week.
Hon Nwobueze said the number of lock up shops, open stalls and the open tables wet section are limited and so have to be balloted.
According to him, “there is no other method to allocate these shops except by balloting since the spaces are limited and the number of interested persons is about 2,000”, he said.
He admitted that the only challenges, the committee has is the surging crowd of traders who wouldn't wait to take their turn but that they are equal to the task.
Responding, the President of Rivers State Traders Association, Comrade Victor Bekwele said the relationship that exist between the traders and the government is like that of the Landlord/ Tenant relationship and so they are more or less handicapped in the situation.
He however agreed with the verification exercise system as according to him, some persons documents were forged in order to get the allocation.
The market union executive are not helping matters either as they are collecting N3,000 from each trader promising them shop allocation.
Mr. Bekwele agreed on the balloting but that the government should fashion out a way of accommodating more traders in the market.
Mr Felix Onyeso, a shop owner in the burnt market however suggested a two–in-one shop allocation, so that more traders would be accommodated, adding that most of them lost their life savings and others retirement benefits in the inferno, appealing that they should be passionately considered.
“It will therefore amount to man-inhumanity to man if these set of traders are just dismissed with ignominy through the loss by the balloting exercise”.
He reminded the Wike administration of the smooth exercise of his predecessor Governor Celestine Omehia sometime who considered first of all the shop owners who lost their valuables in the phase one part of the market before others.
Mr Israel Wobo, the Rumuwoji Community Liaison Officer (CLO) used the opportunity to thanked Governor Nyesom Wike once again for rebuilding the market and promising to set special allocation for the Community and even promised to loan them money to trade; reiterating their unalloyed loyalty and support to his administration.