Creek And Mile 1 Markets: How Wike Wiped Off Traders’ Tears

By Kelechi Esogwa-Amadi

That the famous Creek Road and Mile Markets are among the revenue spinners that Rivers State can boast of is indisputable. The flurry of economic activities, vis-à-vis the hustle and bustle of buyers and sellers that take place in the two markets attest to this. Thus, Creek Road and Mile 1 (Rumuwoji) markets, like Mile 3 and Oil Mill markets, are ever busy, drawing buyers and sellers from different parts of Nigeria. However, despite their economic importance, with regard to the millions of naira they generate for Rivers State annually, the Creek Road and Mile 1 markets have suffered neglect in the past.

Creek Road, which is located in the Town axis of Port Harcourt, was so deplorable and horrible that it became a stinking eye-sore, inaccessible to motorists and pedestrians, prior to Chief Barr Nyesom Wike’s emergence as governor in 2015. It was a gory tale for a market that once had a trader who later became Nigeria’s First Lady. Traders lamented on daily basis; they suffered as a result of the bad road. They yearned, cried and prayed for a messiah to come to their aid.

The emergence of Governor Nyesom Wike in 2015 finally signaled an end to their suffering as he immediately commenced construction of the Creek Road and completed it within record time. It was a prayer answered. Today, the Creek Road market has been revitalized, as trading activities have tripled, with more money flowing in. Thus, Governor Wike, by constructing the Creek Road, appropriately named Patience Jonathan Road, has increased the revenue base of the state. By constructing the road, Governor Wike wiped off the tears of traders at Creek Road market and ended their lingering nightmare.

He indeed proved that he is a listening governor who has the interest of his people at heart.

The case is the same for the Rumuwoji (Mile 1) market, another revenue-spinning landmark project that occupies a prime place in the hearts of Rivers people. Governor Wike’s intervention in the Mile 1 market project could aptly be described as a rescue mission. Having suffered several fire outbreaks over the years, the Rumuwoji (Mile 1) market and the traders who do their business there and who had also suffered losses, finally got a new lease of life when Sir Celestine Omehia became governor of Rivers State on May 29, 2007. One of the projects he initiated, commenced and was poised to complete within his first year in office was the Rumuwoji (Mile 1) market. He promised to build a 3-phase ultra-modern market out of it. True to his word, Omehia, without delay, started construction of the first phase of the market and was at the verge of completing it before a curious, controversial Supreme Court verdict annulled his election and paved way for his cousin, Rotimi Amaechi, to emerge as governor . Government being a continuum, everybody expected Omehia’s successor, Amaechi, to complete the Mile 1 market since it was not an abandoned project but a child of circumstance – being a fall-out of a curious, controversial Supreme Court verdict. But Amaechi only managed to complete the first phase of the market for which Omehia was said to have paid over 70% of the money to the contractor handling it. Amaechi, for reasons best known to him, did not bother to build the second and third phases of the ultra-modern market.

As if the nightmarish experience of the traders and their tears of sorrow were not enough yet, a mysterious fire gutted the market in December 2013, rendered many traders almost useless and reduced the internal revenue of the state. Some f the non-indigenous traders whose goods were burnt by the fire had to relocate to their states to start life afresh. The promise allegedly made by then Rivers State governor to assist the traders with money, was not fulfilled. It was Chief Barr Nyesom Wike, who was then the minister of state for education, in collaboration with then President,Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, that came to donate two hundred million naira to Rumuwoji (Mile 1) market traders to cushion the effect of their losses. But Wike’s messianic intervention did not end there. When he emerged as governor in 2015, he did not hesitate to show that one of the projects that was very dear to his heart and which he was determined to execute construction of the second and third phases of the Rumuwoji (Mile 1) ultra-modern market. He soon matched words with action, by commencing the project, which is still ongoing. Currently, the second phase of the market is more than 85% completed, a feat that has earned the governor plaudits from the traders, the indigenes of Rumuwoji Community (the landlords) and indigenes of Rivers State. If completed, the market will further boost the internally generated revenue (IGR) of Rivers State. It will also reduce the suffering and hazards faced by the traders who sell their wares along the road, such as constant flooding, incessant harassment by touts and policemen, daily exposure to accidents due to the congestion of the Mile 1 market axis of the Ikwerre road and lack of space.