Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
It was a new experience for residents of Umuahia as Shoprite opened in the newly built Abia Mall located at the northern end of the state capital with thousands of shoppers trooping to the vast departmental store.
The shopping mall which was inaugurated by Governor Okezie ikpeazu was one of the economic projects which he inherited from his predecessor, Senator Theodore Orji. It is a public-private project (PPP) between the government owned Abia Retail Company Limited and a private developer.
Speaking with journalists after the inauguration, Orji said that he was happy that the projects has finally been completed, noting that it would boost the economy of the state and contribute to the internally generated revenue (IGR) of the state.
He allayed the fears of Umuahia traders over the likelihood of bad business due to the presence of Shoprite in the capital city, saying that the shopping mall was meant for a class of people while the shop owners in the city would continue to enjoy the patronage of their customers.
The Abia Central senator recalled that “there were many obstacles (along the way) when we started the project” adding that “today it has come to fruition and it has become one of the legacy project that will stand the test of time.”
The Project Director of the company that designed and built the Abia shopping Mall, Mr. Chuka Okoye, told journalists that they are in the business of designing and developing shopping malls across Nigeria, saying such facilities were already in operation at Enugu, Ilorin, Ibadan, Onitsha and Owerri.
“We believe that every state in Nigeria should have a retail mall as in other nations, he said, adding that Umuahia was well positioned to have a shopping a mall and residents would definitely enjoy the low prices and quality goods.
He noted that the project was commenced before Nigeria’s economy plunged into recession hence the execution of the project was not adversely affected by the harsh economic climate, adding that the Abia Shopping Mall is a long term project.