No fewer than 50,000 shops in Ariaria International Market, Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State, would enjoy reliable and steady power supply when the Federal Government rural electrification intervention programme for the market is completed, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, the Minister of Power, Works, and Housing, has said.

Fashola, who gave the hint at the weekend while on an inspection tour, said the project is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement, adding that the pilot phase has already kicked off with traders enjoying improved electricity in more efficient and cleaner way on a daily basis.

Daily Independent gathered that over 100 shops had been connected to the embedded electricity system comprising a power generating plant and a distribution network built solely for the market.

The minister described the project as a perfect example of partnership between federal, state and private sector’s commitment to providing service to the people irrespective of what the law says.

Fashola said that although electricity was yet to be privatized, his ministry got the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari for the inclusion of market intervention in rural electrification which set the stage for bringing power to Ariaria knowing the potentials of the market with regard to the promotion of made-in Nigeria goods.

“I shopped here for over 10 years; I used to come here from Lagos to shop for clothing, up until 1995. That is how I knew about this market and its energy challenge.

“So when we presented the proposal to President Muhammadu Buhari, that if we truly want to promote made in Nigeria, the capacity is in Ariaria, and that, if he would approve a rural electrification strategy to include a market intervention, he said, “go ahead,” stated the minister.

Fashola said after securing approval from the President he called Governor Okezie Ipkeazu who provided the land and rehabilitated the road networks and the stage was set for investors to come in, adding that government has not committed a kobo to the project.

He noted that the service providers assured the project would come at an affordable charge, stressing that before now over N7 million was being spent on running generating sets on daily basis in the market.

“Over N7 million is being spent daily paying for generators on this market, and investors are saying we can do the same business for less, and in a cleaner, healthier and noiseless way. And we think that this is where the real power of small businesses, the real capacity of made-in Nigeria can be unleashed,” he added.

Elder Lucky Akubueze, Chairman of Ariaria International Market Traders Association, told our correspondent that the new electricity project has brought a new life for the traders.

He said that those who are already connected are giving testimonies to the efficiency of the power supply, adding that more shop owners were eager to be connected.

“This is far better compared to the generating sets that traders have relied on for electricity supply. The beneficiaries of this new project are testifying to its reliability and efficiency. It is noiseless, cleaner and reliable and we are happy about it,” he said.

Earlier, Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi, the Managing Director of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), expressed optimism that the project would provide energy solution to the power challenge of Ariaria Market.

Ogunbiyi said that the agency had identified the energy needs of Ariaria Market, disclosing that the power supply project would be run with a sustainable natural gas solution.


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