Once notorious for its chaotic surroundings and dilapidated structures, Ariaria International Market in Aba, Nigeria, is undergoing a remarkable metamorphosis. Driven by ambitious modernization plans and a surge in economic activity, the market is shedding its rough edges and emerging as a potential contender for the title of “world-class market.” All thanks to Blessed Henken International Company Limited and other stakeholders who are working towards this transformation.
Ariaria Market, Aba: From Humble Beginnings to Global Aspirations
Ariaria’s story began decades ago as a small cluster of stalls selling everyday goods. Over time, it grew into a sprawling complex overflowing with textiles, electronics, foodstuffs, and nearly everything imaginable. While its vibrant energy and entrepreneurial spirit were undeniable, the market’s infrastructure struggled to keep pace with its growth. Lack of proper sanitation, inadequate security, and congested walkways hampered its potential.
Recognizing the need for transformation, the Abia State government, in collaboration with private investors, in a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) project, launched a series of initiatives aimed at revamping Ariaria. The most visible change is the ongoing construction of a modern market complex, complete with designated sections for different product categories, wider aisles, and improved ventilation. Additionally, plans are underway for waste management systems, designated parking areas, and enhanced security measures.
The transformation extends beyond physical infrastructure. Initiatives are being implemented to improve business practices, including training programs for traders on financial literacy, customer service, and product standardization. Efforts are also underway to digitize transactions, making the market more efficient and attractive to international buyers.
The Managing Director of Blessed Henken International Company Limited, Engr. Henry Okorafor, unveiled all these plans to journalist while taking them on tour through the A-Line section of the market which is almost completed and already occupied to some percentage by traders.
In his words, “We will like to bring Dubai to Nigeria. All the word-class facilities that we see outside Nigeria in western countries, it is high time we replicate the same thing right here in Ariaria in Abia state, Nigeria”.
He also reiterated that the structures are fire-proof, which means the incidence of fire outbreaks which is common in most markets in Nigeria, will never be experienced in this new Ariaria market. The building process is ongoing, and Engr. Henry said the company have a target of 10 years to complete the full remodeling of the market.
Challenges and Opportunities
The metamorphosis of Ariaria is not without its challenges. Resettling existing traders, ensuring fair allocation of new spaces, and maintaining the unique character of the market while fostering modernization are delicate tasks. However, the potential rewards are significant. A revitalized Ariria could attract more foreign investment, boost tourism, and create thousands of new jobs.
A Symbol of Progress
The transformation of Ariaria International Market is more than just a physical makeover; it’s a symbol of Abia State’s growing economic aspirations. If successful, it could serve as a blueprint for modernizing other informal markets across the country, fostering economic growth and social development. As Ariaria sheds its old skin and takes on a new form, the world is watching, eager to see if this once-humble market can truly rise to world-class standards.