• Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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BusinessDay

Onitsha businesses look to Aba for South-East corridor expansion

Abia

Trading businesses in Onitsha, which has one of West-Africa’s largest concentraton of commercial activities are looking to Aba for a south-east expansion, on the back of the imposing Aba Mega Mall, which is currently under construction in Abia  state of Nigeria.

The $300 million Aba Mega Mall project, promoted by Greenfield Assets Limited, an infrastructure development firm, to boost commercial activities in the region, sits on 25 hectares land and will on completion, consist of 5,830 ultramodern shops in four sizes of 12sq meters, 16sq meters, 24sq meters and 48sq meters respectively.

The facility will have provision for banks, security post; 25,000sq meters climate-controlled warehouse space, restaurants, entertainment centres, childrens’ play area and a massive parking space for over 5,000 cars.

Meanwhile the South-East Amalgamated Traders Association (SEAMATA), an umbrella body of traders in the South-East region of the country, has endorsed the project, which they describe as laudable.

The traders body urged their members across the country to support the project which they say is good for the region, as it is providing the needed infrastructure to ensure that they regain their place in commerce in Africa.

Also on Sunday, over 120 business leaders, cutting across various markets in Onitsha, Anambra State and representatives of the business section of Onitsha Sports Club, took a tour of the facility, located at Osisioma area of Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State.

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Innocent Agudiegwu, chairman, Onitsha Main Market, who led the group to Aba, to ascertain the extent of work at the facility, argued that it would change the face of trading and commerce in the South-East region.

“I am very impressed with what I have seen here today. What they are doing here is fantastic. You cannot get something like this in Onitsha. We have been expecting this kind of thing and God has brought it to our doorsteps and we are going to buy into it, “Agudiegwu said.

Ugo Umeseaka, managing director, Aba Mega Mall Limited, told BusinessDay that about 1,000 traders in Onitsha have indicated interest in buying shops in the mall. Umesiaka further said a cross section of traders from various markets in Onitsha had been taken to see the extent of work at the mall.

These, he said, included those  who have collected their allotment papers to identify where their shops are.

He attributed the fast pace of work at the mall to hard work and the grace of God. “We also believe that this project is a vision for the entire South-East and we are custodians of the vision and we are working hard to make sure it is realised and in good time, knowing that it will affect trade and commerce, it will drive poverty away and improve on the way people live in the Southeast.

“It will also attract foreign patrons and improve international trade, as many people from all parts of the world would trade comfortably, because of the facilities we offer.

He further said, “This is not your normal open market structure. There is security, constant power supply and a bonded terminal. It comes with a total package that supports any level of commerce all over.

“They are happy with the quality of work and we are assuring that we would maintain it and that in the shortest possible time, they would be buying and selling in the mall,” he promised.

Tony Orji, branch manager, First City Monument Bank, Faulks Road Branch, one of the major financiers of the project, assured the traders that the sum of N3.6 billion, the total money for the first phase of the project is ready.

Orji however explained that the project money was being released in tranches, and that the first tranche of N725 million has gone into the project already.

He commended the management of Green Field Assets Limited, owners of the mall, for prudent management of resources.

According to him, they have been frugal and transparent in the deployment of the money released to them. “That money was meant for ten structures but we are seeing is 15 structures springing up, which means that they have utilised the money well.

“The second tranche will be released soon. So the issue of funds has been taken care of, because we are seeing what the money is being used for. And we are happy that they have even surpassed what they were given.

“We are excited; doing this shop has given us that comfort that everybody will get their shops as they make their contribution. Another good thing about this project is that the company is not using off-checkers money to build. The money they pay is in their account and will not be touched until they complete their contribution, “he affirmed.

GODFREY OFURUM