Engineer Henry Okoroafor, the Managing Director of Blessed Henken International Company Limited has affirmed readiness to make the entire Ariaria International market the best market in Nigeria and compete with others globally.
According to Engr. Okoroafor, having lived in China for 25 years, he is piloting the affairs of his company through public private partnership with the Abia State government to remodel the Ariaria International Market.
In a chat with newsmen on Saturday in Aba, Engr. Okoroafor revealed that without a high level of competition, the Nigeria will not be developed, that is why his company is building the Ariaria International market to compete with other markets in Lagos, Abuja and around the world.
According to Engr. Okoroafor, the phase one of the project which began with the popular A-line with constructed 4,200 shops commenced in October 2021 and the idea was not just to reconstruct Ariaria International market in 10 years and also to develop new areas of Aba which he initiated with his Chinese friends when the proposal was given to Abia State government and the plan was for the project to be fully funded by his company in partnership with his Chinese friends.
In his words: “The idea was to build the entire city within the period of seven years and maintain it for 20 years and recover our funds by taxing each household based on what we agreed with the government. If we don’t build Aba to be better than Abuja, people will not come to Aba.”
Engr. Okoroafor added that the land where the new shops are being built were space gotten from demolished shops, and the shop owners were compensated by a million naira reduction to get a newly constructed shop, that is five million naira against six million naira for a new shop owners.
To hit the ground running, Engr. Okoroafor revealed that the Abia State government assisted his company with a loan of N1.5bn which he is already paying back. He also added that the current phase of the project is to be extended to other parts of the market in phases.
Engr. Okoroafor revealed that the Abia State government’s refusal to continue with the proposed lease agreement due to said discrepancies in the past, warranted the Chinese team to abandon the project plan and the previous government of Abia state sourced for loan for him to begin the project. He however added that he is currently receiving tremendous support from the current government of Abia State.
On the cost of selling each shop, he said traders who cannot afford to pay 5 or 6 million naira to buy a shop, there’s an arrangement with a mortgage bank for traders to deposit 2 million naira and pay up the balance upon completion.
The ongoing project at A-line in Ariaria International market is a 3-storey building, each block and has up to 10 hours electricity supply and an elevator to take buyers and sellers to different floors for their transactions and other businesses.
On erosion control, Engr. Okoroafor said the problem of erosion and flooding in the market has been put to check in the market citing that the flooding problems with Ariaria International market was as a result of higher level ground at Faulks road which directs flood to the market but during construction of the first phase of the market, the land was elevated to control the flood in addition with the drainage system and solid cement cast foundation in the facility.
On fire outbreak control, he said all shops in the market were equipped with fire resistance materials.
In his words: ” the door is fireproof and we have water sprinkling systems in all the shops so that in case of any fire incidence, the water sprinkling system will take off the fire but in addition, there are fire extinguishers to be mounted at each section. The place is also well secured because we have security men day and night guiding the place.”
Some traders who spoke to newsmen during the tour expressed their joy buying shops from the project handlers and revealed that they now have more sales than before as business is moving well in all ramifications.
“This is a very welcome development, when people come in they feel relaxed, shop and go. I paid 10 million naira for two shops instalmentally. For power supply, we haven’t payed anything since we moved in around November ending last year.” Mrs Amaka said.
Mr. Mentus, a dealer on jewelry said the new shop he acquired is very convenient for his business and urged the contractors to continue the good work in the Ariaria International market.
Engr. Okoroafor called on all traders in Ariaria International market to connect with the arrangement of Blessed Henken International Company Limited to move Abia forward and make Ariaria International Market the best in the country and around the world.
Watch the interview video here 👇