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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Walking the Talk: Soludo Provides Free Shops for Roadside Traders Dislodged from the Streets

 

By Izunna Okafor, Awka

There was an outburst of joy at Awka, the capital city of Anambra State on Saturday, as Governor Chukwuma Soludo commissioned the newly-constructed Solution Arena constructed by his administration for traders dislodged from the streets.

Built along the Club Road (formerly known as Abakaliki Street) in the heart of the capital city, the well-designed Solution Arena, which houses over 50 stalls and lockup shops, is adorned with the colour of the State, and has some facilities to make the environment comfortable and enabling for the occupants, including water facility, toilet facility, waste bin, solar lights, electricity supply, and green vegetation, among others.

The Arenas also has sections for fruits, vegetables, and grills, among other similar items that will be sold therein, being among the major businesses of the street traders who were earlier dislodged from the area.

Photos of the area before Gov. Soludo swung into action therein.

Commissioning the new Arena on Saturday, Governor Soludo described it as a prototype and model to solve the problem of street trading, adding that the same will also be replicated in different parts of the city and several other parts of the state, to permanently solve the menace of street trading in the State.

The Governor further declared that the shops will be allotted to the traders free of charge, in the spirit of leaving no one behind, which aligns with the slogan of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) — Onye Aghana Nwanne Ya (Be Your Brother’s Keeper).

“All our women and all those who toil everyday, trying to make a leaving for their families with their little bananas and other fruits and vegetables that they hawk around the streets in this neighbourhood and environment, we are bringing them in today. And they will be here… The accommodation here is free of charge.

“Yes, it will be free of charge, because the slogan of our political party is Leaving no one behind. Instead of the people to be along the roads, causing traffic, risking their lives, and messing up the environment, they will now move over here,” the Governor said.

While assuring Ndị Anambra of more dividends of democracy from the APGA government in the State; Governor Soludo also highlighted some other ongoing transformative strides being made by his administration, including the restoration of pipe-borne water in the state after many years of its moribundity, which has already begun operation in some parts of Awka and is still being extended to different parts of the City and other parts of the State.

He further revealed that his administration is currently designing the new Ọdụ Igbo in Onitsha, with the capacity to accommodate hundreds of street traders upon completion; while the people at Ahịa Coke in Onitsha are already having a new lease of life, among other giant strides.

The Governor also commended the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Awka Capital Territory Development Authority (ACTDA), Hon. Ossy Onuko, and his agency for getting the project and initiative to fruition, while specifically mandating him to see to the replication of the model in other parts of the capital territory, as a boost to the massive transformation and infrastructural facelift already ongoing in the capital city.

Speaking in an interview with newsmen, the MD/CEO of ACTDA, Hon. Onuko recalled that many of the street traders who were earlier dislodged from the streets were doing street trading because they lacked money to rent shops; even as he described the birth of the Solution Arena and the Governor’s gesture as a clear manifestation of the APGA’s mantra of leaving no one behind, and another show of the compassionate heart of the Solution Government in the State.

He further hinted that the Soludo Administration is consciously and deliberately regenerating the capital city and transforming it into a world-class capital city, and which cannot be achieved when traders crowd the streets and pedestrian walkways with their wares and even mess up the environment through their uncoordinated forms of marketing and trading; hence, the move to take them off the street, as well as the conception of the idea and the Governor’s approval of the project.

When asked about the Agency’s plan to ensure adequate maintenance of the Arena to avoid being carelessly used and handled, Hon. Onuko explained that a high-powered Management team, headed by a cleric, has been set up to be in charge of the management of the Arena. He further charged the traders to whom the over fifty-unit shops are given to ensure they keep the environment and facility clean, to avoid sabotaging the sincere efforts of the government. Hon. Onuko also revealed that part of the criteria and eligibility for owning a shop at the Arena is that the person must have previously been a street trader, especially those who were dislodged from the street by the state government, as they would consequently apply for a space in the Arena.

On his own part, the Traditional Ruler of Okpuno, Igwe Sunday Okafor, lauded the Governor for his developmental strides, especially the ongoing transformation of the capital city, while also assuring his government of continuous support.

Also present at the event were some top government functionaries, including the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Mr. Ernest Ezeajughi; Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Tonycollins Nwabunwanne; National President of Anambra State Association of Town Unions (ASATU), Barr. Titus Akpudo; among other persons and groups witnessed and expressed their gladness with the project and the Governor’s gesture of free trading at the Arena.

Cutting of the tape to mark the official opening of the Arena formed the high point of the event.

More photos from the event:

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