By Adam Umar
Shop owners and traders at the Abuja Computer Complex, Wuse Zone 3, have decried the high cost of shops at the soon-to-be remodeled complex.
The shop owners have also expressed concern over the decision of Abuja Investment Company Limited (AICL) to concession the facility to a private developer without reaching agreement with them.
Daily Trust gathered that the shop owners have been in the facility for over three decades, having been allotted the shops and they had been paying annual charges to the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) through the company, and also its subsidiary, Abuja Markets Management Limited.
The developer is expected to rebuild the facility and thereafter sell the shops to willing buyers, with the allottees and other tenants given priority and also a 30 per cent discount.
But the allottees are lamenting that the demand by the developer, Blizzard Nigeria Limited, that they pay N1.2 million per square metre was outrageous.
Our reporter who visited the facility last week noticed that the traders were discussing in groups and the atmosphere was charged as the developer moved into the facility the previous Sunday to start work even when no agreement was reached among the shop owners (allottees), AICL and the developer.
A shop owner, George Onogwu, said the developer is yet to reach a consensus with them about how much a shop should cost for those of them that have been there as allottees, and also others who are tenants.
“He (developer) is demanding N1.2 million per each square metre of shop space and some of the shops are more than 30 square metres. How are we going to afford such amount?
“Our rights have been impinged upon severally in the past. The first was to deny our shops owning separate convenience attached to them. Then they introduced what they called annual service charge which is even higher than what we are paying as the original rent to the FCTA,” he added.
Another shop owner, Martins Okwolisa, who has been operating there since 1995, said he was shocked when he heard about the developer’s decision to move into the facility a week ago to start work.
He lamented that the rebuilding project would annex the parking lot, where a three-story structure would be erected thereby denying shop owners and customers the space to park their cars.
“Now they want to take over the facility and give it to a developer whose priority is to build as many shops as possible against the original plan of the centre which is just a neighbourhood market.
“We fear a situation that could lead to traffic congestion in and around this area,” Okwolisa said.
When Daily Trust spoke with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Blizzard Nigeria Limited, Bashir Musa Hamza, whose company got the mandate to rebuild the facility, he said the firm has concluded plans to increase the number of shops there to a little above two hundred.
He admitted that buildings would be erected in part of the present parking lot.
“That would accommodate both the original shops allottees and also their tenants (traders) to be the owners of their own shop,” he explained.
He added that the project was backed by Abuja Investment Company Limited following a mandate from the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, that all complexes under it should be rebuilt.
Effort made by our reporter to get the response of Abuja Investment Company Limited on the development, was not successful.
Meanwhile, Daily Trust has learnt that an Abuja High Court sitting at Maitama, Abuja, issued an injunction last Monday ordering the two parties to maintain the status quo pending judgment in a suit brought before it by the allottees.