One of the largest markets in West Africa and nicknamed “China of Africa” because of its ingenuity in the making of wears and leather works; Ariaria International Market is located in Aba, a city in Abia State Southeast Nigeria.
Established in 1976 following a fire outbreak that destroyed the old Ekeoha Market in Aba. The market was originally sited in a swampy area.
The market cuts across three local government areas, the Aba North, Aba South and Osisioma; with an estimated two million traders.
There are a variety of businesses across the market which includes sales of fabrics, clothes, shoe making and sales, pharmaceutical supplies, hair salon materials, salons, general household goods etc.
Ariaria market has a total of 37,000 shops. With an annual turnover of over $3billion according to 2018 data, Ariaria is a resellers’ market where you can buy wholesale cheaply; and even have your desired products designed and produced to your exact specifics.
It is a known fact that traders come from all over Nigeria, and the West Africa sub-region to buy in truck loads. Some foreign businesses even buy products in bulk, go back home, re-brand and re-sell at great profits.
Within Africa, goods from the market usually have offload points in countries like Zambia, Ghana, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.
The present administration led by Okezie Victor Ikpeazu began the #MadeInAba campaign to ensure that the market gets the needed global attention it deserves; the governor claims he has only #MadeInAba clothes since he assumed office.
Ariaria is powered by a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Independent Power Plant that possesses an independent distribution network.
The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has disclosed that out of the 37,000 shops located within the busy Ariaria International Market in Aba, Abia State, 4,000 have been connected to clean, affordable and stable electricity generated from a 9.5 megawatts (MW) gas-based power plant built under its Energising Economies Initiative (EEI) by a private investor.
The effect of perennial flooding in Abia and some other states has become a thorn in the flesh of both business owners and residents; as the Ariaria market bears the greater weight of this burden. In the past, trailers and heavy-duty trucks used to come into the market to offload their wares, but that is no longer the case as traders have taken and converted every available space in and outside the market to shops.
Some traders blame the state government for the bad state of the market after pictures of the flooded market surfaced on the internet; one will think that such an old market may have exceeded the original capacity of its initial design, hence a need for evaluation and remodeling.
The state government claim that all efforts to reach an agreement with the stakeholders and shop owners proved impossible; with their fears understandable. “Would we get our shops back?” “Are we going to be able to afford it?” The war raged on for over five years.
The state government for the umpteenth time set up a project and implementation committee headed by the Commissioner for Information, John Okiyi Kalu. The project which is in phases; will include works on A-Line and associated lock-up shops, C-Line, Surgical Line up to Enyimba gate, Kitchen utensils shops and Medical Line in the first phase to to be delivered by the first week of December 2021 and concluded with minimal disruptions to trading activities at the other lines.
According to a press release signed by the Commissioner for Information, John Okiyi Kalu the redevelopment work will ensure the reconstruction of internal roads, new drains for proper storm water channeling and new ultra-modern shops with car parks, police and fire service posts.
The release also stated that the governor has directed the appointed developer and the state Ministry of Trade & Investment to, as a matter of topmost priority, ensure that they be restored to their shops after reconstruction of the affected Lines before any new allotment of shops takes place.
Hopefully, this will bring an end to the issue of perennial flooding in the Ariaria International Market and improve the economic impact of the market.