Congestion at Eke Awka : Traders, ATMA, Disagree on Cause

. . . Want Govt to Relocate Market

By Precious Ukeje and Alexander Adejoh

The Chief of Staff, Awka Main Market, Mr. C.I.D. Anierobi, has attributed the persistent traffic congestion around the market to the agents of the Anambra Traffic Management Agency, ATMA, allowing themselves to be compromised by the traders and commercial vehicle operators; a development, he says, that has made it difficult for the agents to tackle the traffic situation there report Precious Ukeje and Alexander Adejoh

‘Men of the agency collect bribes from roadside traders and vehicle operators and therefore allow them to stay at wrong places which in turn, results in heavy traffic congestion,’ Anierobi said.

But the Anambra Traffic Management Agency, ATMA, in their reaction, described Anierobi’s claim as unfounded, and rather blamed the traffic congestion on interference from indigenes of the community, paucity of manpower and security backup.

Anieriobi made this known last Monday in his office in an interview with Fides reporters on a mission to ascertain the cause of the heavy traffic, despite the presence of traffic lights and traffic management agents.

He also blamed the traffic situation on traders who sold goods on the roads, thus obstructing free traffic flow.

‘They cause problems in the market because they are not members of the market. It was not easy to bring them together for meetings because they were not identifiable; they had no shops in the market and came from interior places to the town to sell their wares and go back at night,’ Anierobi explained.

Noting that the traffic lights were installed for good purposes, he also blamed the heavy congestion on the recklessness of tricycle operators, describing them as people without patience and discipline.

‘Another factor is keke operators; you find them driving anyhow, without caution. At times, even when the traffic is showing red light, the keke operators won’t care,’ Anieriobi said.

Speaking on the tickets issued roadside traders by some individuals and how such encouraged their continuous stay on the road, the Chief of Staff who apportioned blame to government, its agencies and Eke Awka traders, admitted that they were aware of such and explained that the money paid was for obstruction and payment of people who cleaned the environment littered by the traders before they left the market.

Speaking on the challenges they faced in the market, the Chief of Staff said their customers did not have parking spaces, leading to their vehicles being towed by government agencies.
‘Also, the government has not tarred any area in the market, despite the heavy revenue paid to them. The German floors seen around the market are the initiative of market men and women,’ he said.

For his part, the Acting State Provost, Anambra Traffic Management Agency, Mr. Emeter Ifeatu, and the Awka Operations Officer of the agency, Mr. Olisa Arinze, denied that their men collected bribes from roadside traders and vehicle operators.

In their Agu-Awka office last Wednesday, the duo told Fides that the community members who collected tolls from the traders were a threat and stumbling block to the effective delivery of their job.

They said the youths and other members of the community, especially in the evenings, revolted against ATMA, telling them that civil service time was over.

Ifeatu and Arinze also complained of paucity of manpower and said the agency needed about 20-25 men to combat the congestion in Eke Awka as the area was large. They added that the traders when driven out and their wares seized, would promise never to repeat it, only to return to the roads soon after.

Commenting on the obstruction of roads by individuals having private ceremonies, Ifeatu said it was within their jurisdiction to dismantle such and urged the Anambra State Signage and Advertisement Agency (ANSAA) to liaise with their agency before approving individual usage of roads to ensure that the celebrants would not cause congestion.

They however agreed with Anieriobi’s view that several government agencies such as the Ministries of Transport, Trade and Commerce, as well as Information, had roles to play in the fight against street trading and persistent congestion in the market area. They said the solution was for the market to be moved to the permanent site mapped out by the government at Isiagu.