published May 27, 2021, 8:12 p.m. by mariamagboola
The Need for Consortium of Banks to Reconstruct Jos Main Market.
Since the Jos Main Market was burnt down in 2002, the cost of rebuilding has been the bone of contention. Successive governments in the state have made it part of their electoral promises to construct the market but have failed to do so. This was because before it was burnt, the market was adjudged one of the best in West Africa and no administration wanted to put any structure lower in esthetics in place of the burnt market.
The Simon Lalong led administration has gone a step further by undertaking a feasibility study to know the extent of work that has to be done. It came up with a whooping N15billion cost estimate for the reconstruction of the market; which he said is beyond what the state government could foot. Despite the promise he made severally to the people of the state to rebuild the market before the expiration of his tenure, Lalong had to own up to the fact that the state’s income cannot foot this bill.
According to information gathered none of the investors that have been invited or those who had come on their own to inspect the edifice had come back to pick up the project and execute it under the Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) agreement. While the foreigners might be skeptical because of the security situation in the country, the local investors lack the finance weight to take up the challenge.
Governor Lalong had gone cap in hand to the Federal government to help out but the decrease in foreign exchange earnings from crude oil and the security problem facing the country might have made Jos Main Market issue the least of its problem.
As it is often said that it is only citizens of the country that can pull the nation out of its present quagmire, it becomes pertinent for the Banks in the country to consider putting their resources together to finance this project; considering its immense economic benefits to the nation and its financial benefit to the consortium; especially if it is put under the management of a reputable firm.
The Jos Main Market, before it was gutted by fire, use to serve as a meeting point for merchants from the Western, Eastern and Northern parts of the country and some west African countries to sell their wares and buy new ones to take to their base. Trucks and trailers were always coming in and out of Jos with goods on daily basis. Its reconstruction would resuscitate such movements. It will greatly reduce the long journey of men and goods from north to the west or to the eastern parts of the country. It will also assist movement of more goods to every part of the county and into the hinterland. The unique location of Jos in the central part of the country and its clement climate makes it conducive for traders to stay for days to conclude their business transactions before moving on.
The restoration of peace and security by the Lalong led administration and his putting in place mechanism which would make its sustenance outlive his tenure, has provided the impetus for business activities to strive in the state. The understanding and rapport between the different ethnic and religious groups then cannot be compared to Lalong’s era. Having learnt their lesson that civil strife brings nobody any good, Plateau citizens cherish peace more than any other state in the federation and would do all they can to sustain it.
The present administration is making better use of the unique climate of Plateau State to encourage the production of exotic fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, black berries apples, lettuce and cabbages. Presently these products are mainly imported into the country and sold in supermarkets in some cities. Most vegetables produced in other parts of the country, are of better qualities and quantities on the Plateau. With the presence of many of merchants from different parts of the country if the Jos Main Market is rebuilt and with the renovation of Jos Airport, these products could be brought in from local government areas and taken to other parts of the country or be flown to far distance and other countries to earn foreign exchange. African Countries like Kenya, on daily basis fly vegetables and fruits to European countries. Jos can become a hub for such activities in Nigeria. For any product moving in and out of the Jos Main Market levies would be collected on a daily basis.
No doubt, states in the North Central are rich in agricultural products and could conveniently feed the whole nation. The major hindrance to achieving this feat is getting the produce to the markets. If Jos Main Market could attain its past glory, getting these products down to Jos from the other states would be a lot easier and more convenient and for the producers and middlemen. From the city they can be easily disposed off, and transported to other parts of the country. With the policy review being undertaken by the federal government on solid minerals, their market can also spout from Jos.
The old Jos Main market was the main source of internally revenue generation for Plateau State government before it was burnt down. A new one with better facilities than the former could also be a money spinner for the consortium if it takes up the challenge to reconstruct it and manage it for a number of years as agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to be signed with Plateau state government, before handing it over to the state.
If banks in Nigeria could put funds together to resuscitate the National Arts Theatre in Iganmu Lagos to salvage the monument that once brought glory to Nigeria by hosting the whole of Africa for Arts and Culture festival, they can do the same by bringing back to life the Jos Main Market that was one of the best in West Africa.