[From BONIFACE OKORO, Umuahia]
Abia Government has set up a team of professionals to conduct integrity tests on structures in markets and malls across the state, with a warning that structures which fail the test would be demolished.
The team, made up of structural engineers and architects, as well as town planners and building technologists would equally ascertain whether such buildings have appropriate approvals.
The team has four weeks to conclude its assignment after government would embark on demolition of all structures that failed the integrity tests or were built without approvals from appropriate regulatory agencies.
State Commissioner for Trade and Commerce, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, said the Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, gave the directive to conduct the integrity test on old and new structures in markets and malls across the state.
Okiyi, while addressing Chairmen of market committees in the state in his office last Wednesday, disclosed that the action was being taken to protect traders and their customers from the risk of building collapse.
The Commissioner, who decried the spate of illegal construction works in the markets and malls in Aba and other parts of the state without due approvals, emphasised that any structure that fails the integrity test would 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 was 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 made.
“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 do business without hindrance,” the Commissioner said.
Okiyi used the opportunity to reassure the Market Committees Chairmen that his ministry was focused on delivering on the Governor’s mandate on remodeling of Ariaria International Market and New Market on Ngwa Road, Aba.
“Though natural phenomena such as the un-abating 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 remodeled 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 aging process are 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 government to sanitize markets in the state and end the era of illegal revenue collection.