- Traders and commercial activities in Jos, Plateau State capital, never remain the same again since the destruction of Terminus Market by fire in 2002. In this piece, GOLOK NANMWA captures the excitements of traders as efforts are being made to rebuild the market in order to restore big commerce to the state.
Jos Main Market, popularly referred to as Terminus Market used to be an ultra-modern market located in Jos, the capital of Plateau State. The market was known to be the largest indoor market in West Africa and once stood as a symbol of pride and achievement to the people of the state.
The market was established under the first Military Governor of the old Benue-Plateau State, Joseph Gomwalk. The market eventually grew to become the hub for the sale of all sorts of commodities including cosmetics and clothing until it was gutted by fire in 2002 by unknown sources.
Attempts by past administrations to rebuild the market has proved futile as the market has had little or no government presence since the inferno. A visit to the Terminus Main Market recently showed that it is an eyesore.
On assumption of office in May 29th, 2015, Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau State, vowed that his administration would rebuild the burnt market. The governor said that the market, burnt about 15 years ago, served as one of the state’s largest revenue spinners.
“Jos Main Market used to be the biggest avenue for generating revenue in the state. Now when this market was burnt about 15 years ago, efforts were made to rebuild the market but each time it will just end up without any political will. But I came in and I said no, I am going to build back Jos Main Market”, he said.
It could be recalled that recently, the state government also disclosed that plans were at their final stage to commence the rebuilding of the Jos Main Market pointing out that its goal was to enhance commercial activities in Jos and its environs.
Addressing the press, chairman, Project Implementation Unit (PIU) for the development of the market, Chief Ezekiel Gomos said 12 reputable Transaction Advisers had bided for the job, but four were selected after thorough and transparent evaluation, adding that the four will be invited and given one month to submit their technical and financial proposals for the job, after which one will finally be selected.
“The four will be invited and would be given one month to submit their technical and financial proposals; they are expected to submit to government through the Ministry of Commerce/PIU telling government how they intend to carry out the assignment and how much it will cost.”
He said, “Because government has opted to develop the market using Private/Public Partnership (PPP), it is only fair that we get a Transaction Adviser who is sound in PPP arrangement; PPP is a new concept in Nigeria for financing projects. We are doing it in line with Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) guideline”, he said.
Keeping to its earlier promise, the state government on the 1st of August, 2016, put into action its commitment to reconstruct Jos Main Market by signing a pact with Roughton International London (UK) Limited in collaboration with Cynergy Associates Consortium.
The Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Hon. Ezekiel Daju, signed the Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of the State Government, while the Country Director of Roughton International, Engr. Joseph Ikechukwu, signed on behalf of Roughton International and Cynergy Associates Consortium.
Daju said the Jos Main Market remains a critical project to the development of the state and urged the Roughton Company to use the project and attract investors to invest in the state. According to the Commissioner, the MoU is for the first phase of the redevelopment and enhancement, which will cost N230 million. The project will be completed in 12 months.
The chairman of the Project Implementation Unit, Nde Ezekiel Gomos, hailed Governor Lalong for his determination to rebuild the famous market that had made Jos a hub for traders from across Nigeria and West Africa.
The PIU, comprising the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Jos Main Market Authorities and the Plateau Investment and Property Company, said there was a transparent bidding process through which Roughton international emerged and promised government’s total commitment in the rebuilding process.
Country Director Roughton International, Engr. Joseph Ikechukwu, assured the State Government that the company would carry out the exercise with diligence and meet up the target of 12 months as stipulated in the MoU.
The chairman of the Trader Associations in Plateau State, Alhaji Najib Abubakar, expressed pleasure at the efforts to rebuild the market, saying that traders from all over Nigeria and even countries like Ghana used to travel all the way to Jos for business in the market.
Teye Princewell, a trader in Jos said the rebuilding of the terminus market would be a welcome development. She said the market would unite citizens of the state. According to her, traders in the state are currently scattered, but with the rebuilding of the market, most traders would come together like it was done in the past.
Management committee chairman of Langtang South Local Government of the state, Hon. Nicholas Vongsing also hailed the governor of the state for the gaint stride of rebuilding the market saying that the governor is determined to better the lives of citizens of the state saying that “Since coming to office, Governor Simon Bako Lalong of has made it clear that his administration would try to complete all relevant abandoned projects in the state and he is keeping to his promise.
“The rebuilding of the market would also boost the Internally Generated Revenue IGR of the state”, he added.
Also in a related development , to boost the Internally Generated Revenue of Plateau State, the government recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a private firm, Solbec Ltd, with the aim of resuscitating the moribund state-owned Panyam Fish Farm.
State Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mrs Linda Barau, said the new arrangement will be based on Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) between the state government and the private sector.
According to her, “the government’s effort is in line with its resolve to give the agricultural sector the topmost priority it deserves as a potentially great revenue earner for the state, especially in the face of dwindling oil revenue from the Federation Account “.
Panyam Fish farm, which was established about 65 years ago, is reputed to be Nigeria’s largest fish farm covering a land mass of 309 hectares, with the capacity to produce about 4.9 tonnes of fish and over 10 million fingerlings annually, but was abandoned by past governments in the state Similarly, the state governor has vowed to rebuild the Roc International Hotel, an abandoned towering structure at Shere Hills around Lamingo in Jos North Local Government Area of the State which has been abandoned for over 30 years.