Market lane is our new package that keeps a tab on the activities of the markets in Igbo nation. Commerce is a major occupation of Ndigbo and requires every support to make it grow. In this maiden edition we are beaming our search light on Eziukwu market. Nonye Udumiri, our Aba correspondents captured it as it is.
The Eziukwu Road Market in Aba South LGA of Abia State does not need any introduction for people in Enyimba City. It is very accessible on both road and rail, as it is strategically located on the railway track linking Aba, Enugu, Abakiliki, and Port Harcourt to Maiduguri.
Based on popular assertion, it is the second largest market behind Ariaria and the third best in Aba. The Eziukwu Market is the number one in the entire Aba, when one is looking out for provisions, cosmetics, toiletries, drinks, stockfish, foodstuffs and stationary, groceries to buy.
We beamed our torch on the market to ascertain much information that customers who come to Aba from across all parts of Nigeria will find very useful before visiting the market.
However, before moving straight to that useful information, which includes; where to get whatever one wants within the market and how to access the market from outside Aba, it is expedient we look into the history of this great market.
History of the market:
A renowned businessman and Secretary of Eziukwu Road Market, Hon. Chief Chimaobi Nkaru took News Echo down memory lane, as he narrated how the market began and the reason behind the double names it bears till today (Eziukwu Road Market and Cemetery Market).
According to Nkaru, “The construction of Eziukwu Road Market started after the unfortunate inferno at Ekeoha Market in 1976. It is because of that inferno; many Ekeoha traders were displaced and were selling on the streets.
“As government was making arrangements to build a new market at current Ariaria International Market that wasn’t in existence as at then, the traders occupied streets closer to Ekeoha Market.
“The affected streets includes; Cameroun road, Market road, Tenant road and other adjoining roads. They were selling there because they couldn’t get a place to display their goods at the already burnt Ekeoha. Government of the then old Aba Local Government decided it wise to build another market here. This place used to be Cemetery.
“So, the Local Government Administrator then, Anthony Orjiaku, with one of his lieutenants, Jerry Eze, came into this place, started building it to accommodate traders who could not get a place to stay after the Ekeoha Market inferno.
“This market was completed in 1987 and when it was done, street traders were directed and possibly forced to move into this place. At that beginning, it was all about Cemetery Market, but at a point when people out of fear started saying they were seeing ghost and all that. So we had to pray.
“That was when one the men of God that came to the market for the prayers, the late Owen Azubuike of Anglican Communion said that from that day henceforth, this place will no longer be called Cemetery Market.
“He said it should rather be called Eziukwu Road Market. That was how the new name came in. As you can see or already know, many still call it Cemetery Market up till today.”
Accessibility to the market:
As one of the biggest markets in Aba, News Echo tried to verify the accessibility of the market for customers coming from outside Aba and discovered that there are many routes to the market.
Speaking to our man on accessibility of the market, Hon. Matthew Ugwoke, the Chairman of Eziukwu Road Market said that under the current administration of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, issue of accessibility has improved drastically.
“With what is going on now in Aba right now in terms of road constructions, it’s difficult to give just a single direction to Eziukwu Market because everywhere is becoming lively and motorable again after many years.
“However, if one is coming from Lagos, Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto, Enugu, Onitsha in fact, customer coming through Owerri or Umuahia, just stops at Aba Main Park. From Aba Park, it is not more than 10 minutes drive to Cemetery road through number-1 Port Harcourt road, which is the end of Asa road as well that easily links customers to the Eziukwu Road Market.
“Again, they can decide to avoid Aba Main Park and move through the newly constructed Eziukwu road which will soon get to the market. That road is straight to the market without cutting at any direction. Customers from the above mentioned states can also join through Brass Junction, move to the newly rehabilitated Okigwe road, join through Osusu and Cemetery road and get here.”
Ugwoke also gave directions for customers coming from Port Harcourt and Bayelsa State, adding that they can enter Eziukwu Road Market through Faulks road linking through Osusu which directly links to Cemetery road down to the railway.
“Soon, I know our customers from Bayelsa and Port Harcourt will start joining straight from Port Harcourt road straight into Cemetery road because serious work is ongoing there.
“Those coming from Cross River and Akwa-Ibom State can easily join us through Ogbor-Hill, via East Street through Azikiwe road and Asa road straight through Cemetery road or pass through school road to Eziukwu road as well.
“When Ngwa road is completed as we are seeing now, the Akwa-Ibom State customers can also come from Aba-Opobo-Azumini Highway, link through Emelogu road.
“From Emelogu, they will move through the Orji Uzor-Kalu Bridge, get to Ngwa road and drive straight to Eziukwu road Market crossing the Good Morning Market and Ahia-Ohuru on their way. So, the market is accessible. It’s no longer hidden thanks to Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, he stated again”
Parts of the market and goods to buy:
Breaking down the parts of the markets to our correspondent and the types of goods found in each part, Nkaru said the Eziukwu Road Market is partitioned into 28 Zones, with over 50 lines.
He went ahead to classify the market into two major parts of Private Park Session and the Main Gate Session which are the parts that accommodate the 28 Zones and over 50 lines at the Eziukwu Road Market.
He said, “We have the Private Park Session. This Private Park Session is made up of many Zones like Zone: 1, 20, 10, 17 and 24 and the other private plazas attached.
“What the major thing customers can get from all these zones listed under the Private Park is provisions because that is where wholesale provisions are sold in this market.
“There are also other articles and essentials but wholesale provisions are their specialization in the above listed zones under the Private Park Session.”
Explaining further, Nkaru said, “We also have the Main Gate Session that includes many zones like: zone 2 where you have artisans like people producing waterproof, people who also sell articles and those who sell wrappers.
“Another zone in this Main Gate Session is zone 3. Here is predominantly occupied by those who sell cosmetics and retail provisions. Remember, I’ve talked about wholesale provisions zone, this one now is about retail provisions and cosmetics. However, it’s predominantly a cosmetic zone.
“From there you move to Zone-4 which is a livestock zone. Things like chicken, pigeon, dogs, cat, lizard in fact anything animal (livestock). Although there are people selling foodstuffs around the zone, but livestock is predominantly the general thing there.”
Going further, the Scribe said that Zone-5 of the Eziukwu Road Market is all about yams. “Yes, some people are selling foodstuffs to complement things there, but Zone-5 is where traders who go to the Northern part of Nigeria to buy yams and sell stay. If you want yam in wholesale and retail, you’ll get them all in Zone-5.”
He also said that Zone-6, is where stockfish dealers stay and where any form of stockfish, whether in bags, wholesale, retail whatever it may be that has to do with stockfish can be bought. The market leader, however, explained that in Zone-7, goods available for customers are mixed up, as one can virtually get whatever he wants to buy provided he searches properly because the zone is located on the road.
According to him, “The medical group or medicine dealers are in Zone-8, 25 and some parts of Zone-21. In Zone-9 and15 what you will get there is mainly sack bags. The sack bag dealers own those two zones.
“If you go to Zone-23 what you get there is foodstuffs retail sellers and whatever you want to use for your cooking.”
He concluded the description by saying that Zone-26 is where one can buy anything rubber products like slippers, sandals, and any plastic product. While Zone-12 and 27 are usually for those who deal on fairly used wears.
Impact of the market to Abia economy
Ugwoke described the Eziukwu Road Market as centre for all job minus trading which is the main thing people believe going on in the market.
“With Eziukwu Market functioning to its expected level, many idle hands will get busy. In fact, this place is creating jobs for people not just traders. Both the educated and uneducated are accommodated here. You can see banks around; you can see people who do adverts and shows for products.
“See the drivers, see the loaders, see the truck pushers, everybody is busy. Governor Ikpeazu is always talking about making trade and commerce better in Abia and Eziukwu road Market is an evidence of that talk. People feed from here.
“For our customers out there, please find your way to Aba, visit Eziukwu Road Market and buy whatever you want. We’ll serve you well because, we always believe that without our customers, Enyimba City is nothing.”
Speaking on market leadership, Ugwoke thanked the Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu and his wife Deaconess Nkechi Ikpeazu for making it possible for him to be the Chairman of the market.
“I’m grateful and I’m leading with the fear of God and in obedience with the law of the land. The state government does not treat us like traders. They treat us like citizens who are investing for the growth of the state and also making ends meet lawfully. We’re very happy and that’s why you see everyone doing their businesses without any complaint.
“Since I came in as Chairman, my co-traders are happy. There has never been any problem here because the government is always listening to us and solving our problem. There is no single discrimination here.
“My message to customers out there is to come and see with their eyes. Aba has regained her lost glory. This is a city of pride for Ndigbo and Governor Ikpeazu has finally given all Igbo something to cherish.”
Challenges and potentials:
Mr. Ferdinand Obi, a provision dealer said that the major problem or challenge the market has faced for many years is bad roads leading to it. He however said that things are improving beyond his expectations.
“If anybody had told me that I’ll see a government trying seriously to open up Eziukwu Road for business, I’ll doubt it. It’s more than 25 years that road has been blocked for use.
“It’s the easiest link into this market. We’ve suffered, we’ve cried, we’ve prayed for years, but God has decided to answer us. At a point I planned relocating to another city, but having stayed in Aba all my life it was difficult.
“See, there was a time when all the roads leading to this market were all dead. Honestly, I commend this government for their efforts. Abia Internally Generated Revenue will improve once the Governor completes what he’s doing on Eziukwu and Cemetery road.”
Also adding his voice on challenges, the Secretary said, “It wasn’t too smooth before. As you can see, businesses are moving well because of the kind of government we now have in Abia. Roads leading to our markets are all opening up after several years of neglect.
“Our Governor Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu is doing marvelously well. You can go out there and see how all the links into this market are being fixed without delay. Eziukwu road construction is approaching this market just as the governor assured us the day he was commissioning Milverton road, Ojike Lane and the first phase of Eziukwu road.
“You can see what he’s doing on Ngwa road which connects us with Ahia-Ohuru, you can see what he’s doing at Cemetery road, another road linking to this market!
“Those are just few out many good things the governor is doing to ensure things move well for us. We’ll keep supporting him in whatever future ambition he has because he has done well and is still doing marvelously well.”
Nneamaka Ojiakor, a dealer on cosmetics said that aside bad roads, which the current administration is fixing rapidly, another problem within the market that posed a challenge was that of multiple taxation.
“There was a time when you’ll be made to pay same levies with different names. However, this government came and harmonized everything making it easier now. You know most traders aren’t educated and when clever people see such, they take advantage of it to separate names of things that means actually the same.
“However, since some years now, it has been corrected and everybody is happy. It’s difficult to do business when you’re not happy, but if my customers will come, buy, I make money, pay necessary levies and enjoy my profit why should I not be happy? We thank God people with human hearts are listening.”