Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, has directed that integrity tests be conducted on old and new structures in markets and malls across the state.
This was disclosed by the State’s Commissioner for Trade and Investment, John Okiyi Kalu, while speaking to Chairmen of market committees in the state in his office on Wednesday.
He disclosed that the action is being taken to protect traders and their customers from the risk of building collapse.
Okiyi, who decried the spate of illegal construction works in the markets and malls in Aba and other parts of the state without due approvals, informed that any structure that fails the integrity test will be swiftly demolished in the interest of the public and without further notice to the occupants or owners.
He stated that regardless of where a market or mall is located in the state, due approvals must be obtained from the ministry of trade and investment and other relevant agencies of the state before any work is done or modifications are made.
According to him, “we have put together a team made up of structural engineers and architects as well as town planners and building technologists to engage in the review and report back to government within four weeks. After that, those with due approvals and conformity to safe building procedures will be allowed to continue work and business without hindrance”.
The Deputy Governor assured that the ministry is focused on delivering on the Governor’s mandate on the remodelling of Ariaria International Market and New Market in Ngwa Road, Aba.
“Though natural phenomena such as the unabating rainfall and other unforeseen disruptions have impacted the speed of the work being done in A-Line Ariaria, we want to do everything possible to meet the timelines given to the ministry. Interestingly, many of those expecting to see standard foundations that apply while building other houses at the project site are not privy to the design of the remodelled Ariaria project to know exactly where we are with the work. Basically, the pillars are currently being erected and as soon as the sedimentation and ageing process is completed, such people will be pleasantly surprised with the next structures that will emerge. We have also delineated the work in a manner that ensures that while the drainage and internal road components are appropriately marked out, the market buildings will emerge first before we do the roads and drains”, he said.
Responding, the market committee chairmen assured they would partner with the government to sanitize markets in the state and end the era of illegal revenue collection.