‘Relocation of Aba waterside market for cattle sale, not RUGA’
Abia State government has clarified that contrary to insinuations in some quarters, relocating the Aba Waterside Ogbor Hill Cattle Market to Egbelu Umuokpara Obehie in Ukwa West Council Area is not aimed at establishing a Rural Grazing Area (RUGA).
Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Dr. Cosmos Ndukwe refuted the claim in an interview with The Guardian, describing it as false and an attempt by some persons or groups to cause discontent against the government.
He said that the menace of cattle, indiscriminate pollution of the Aba River and contamination of air had become a source of concern and reason for the relocation of the market to Obehie, adding that above all, it was aimed at ensuring that motorists and pedestrians were saved from struggling with cattle at the Aba Waterside.
He said Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s administration at inception in 2015 saw the challenge cattle trading around the Aba Waterside caused members of the public and decided to relocate it to a more convenient site where trading would be less hazardous and more environmentally friendly.
Ndukwe disclosed that the Muslim community led by Chief Musa Iheakaram and Chairman of Cattle Dealers, Alhaji Ibrahim Njidda, also approached the government to give them an alternative place to continue their trade as they had done in the over 50 years they have been traded at the Aba Waterside.
The commissioner further explained that as at September 2016, the Ministry of Lands inspected possible sites for relocation of the cattle market at the waterside.
He pointed out that one of the lands inspected was the Egbelu, Umuopara Obehie location measuring 107074.43 square meters, which it revoked through “Revocation Order 2017” to relocate the cattle market.
He also disclosed that members of the proposed host community, who asked several pertinent questions, were assured that the land would be used for cattle trading, which the Waterside has served for over 50 years.
Ndukwe noted that the Ikpeazu-led administration had opposed the use of any land for the establishment of RUGA settlement in Abia hence he promptly signed the bill that sought to prohibit grazing of cattle in the state into law.
“What the Ministry of Trade and Investment proposed was a trading place more accommodating than what we had at the Waterside, a market place that would offer opportunities to other allied produce, as it is applicable in Umuchieze Cattle Market in Umunneochi Council Area of the state and not as a RUGA settlement,” he stressed.
Chairman of the Egbelu Umuokpara Obehie community, Elder Abraham Ngozi, welcomed the relocation of the Aba Waterside Cattle Market, saying it would not only bring them development but employment opportunities, while Njidda and Iheakaram commended the state government for relocating them to a more suitable place.