Anxiety Mounts in Onitsha as Traders Demand Refund of N4bn Paid for Collapsed Ochanja Market Shops

Anxiety Mounts in Onitsha as Traders Demand Refund of N4bn Paid for Collapsed Ochanja Market Shops

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Tension grips Onitsha Commercial Town as traders who had purchased shops at the collapsed Ochanja Market demand a refund of their money.

Reportedly, over 500 shops were sold by the contractor and implicated government officials involved in the construction, at the rate of N8 million per shop, totaling over N4 billion. The traders paid this sum with the understanding that upon completion of the project, they would occupy their shops.

However, with the collapse of the building and subsequent demolition of another, the traders feel cheated, alleging that the amount paid should have ensured quality work. They accuse the government officials and contractor of dishonest practices.

“Some of us borrowed money to pay for those shops, trusting that since it’s a government project, everything would be genuine and supervised by government agencies, only to witness what happened last week,” one trader expressed.

Currently, the affected traders are on the hunt for the contractor and the two government officials to reclaim their money. Governor Charles Soludo announced that the property remains sealed pending the establishment of a government panel to investigate the collapse.

“We are searching for the contractor and those government officials involved in the collapsed building. Their phones are off, suggesting they’re on the run. But they can’t evade responsibility forever; they hold our money, and the collapse wasn’t part of our agreement, so they must refund us,” another trader asserted.

It’s reported that the contractor had invested over N3.5 billion in the project, which was not completed at the time of the collapse. This situation may lead to legal disputes.

Acknowledging the possibility of legal action, one trader stated that they have already contacted their lawyers should the contractor and government officials fail to heed their refund demands.

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