It was set up to compete with other shopping malls in Awka and Nnewi. But the shopping mall in Onitsha, housing Shoprite is not being patronised. Reason? The people have so many markets that offer cheaper prices as Okegwo Kenechukwu in Onitsha, reports,
In fairness to the former Governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi, there was no doubt that he had the desire to make Anambra State a megacity to reckon with in Nigeria and beyond.
To some people, he was the Messiah who turned the fortune of the state around but to some, Obi came on a business voyage with an overriding interest to explore and exploit all avenues of untapped mineral and material resources of the state.
Among the enterprise of the former governor that are visible are the Sab Milla Breweries, makers of Hero beer, the non-functioning Orient Petroleum Resources and the Shopping Mall complexes sited in the three business zones of Awka, Onitsha and Nnewi. Although, the Orient Petroleum Resources in Umuoba Anam in Anambra West and Ayamelum Area is yet to commence production, over 85 per cent of the people of South East hailed the venture because it launched the state into the membership of oil producing states in Nigeria but since the completion and commissioning of the shopping mall in Onitsha on April 14 , 2016, by the present Governor of the state, Chief Willie Obiano, the Shoprite, which people thought would dwarf others in the South East zone has remained deserted, contrary to the expectation of the people.
This, according to inhabitants of the commercial city was because it was a misplaced economic venture.
Investigation has also shown that while the ones in Awka and Nnewi are at different stages of activities, that of Onitsha has remained deserted and a ghost of itself Onitsha Shopping Mall, according to them was located at the former Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS) Station office in Onitsha, inside the heart land of the commercial city to draw the expected customers that would patronize it to stand the test of time from within and around the city.
Investigation revealed that so many reasons have been adduced for the poor patronage of the business, while some believed that the location of the mall was ab initio, a subject of controversy between the people of Onitsha and Anambra State government on one side and the ABS on the other. Some alleged that the Onitsha people leased the land to the then Anambra State when one Chief Boniface Offorkaja was the General Manager of the Anambra Broadcasting Corporation in the early 1980s and as such, was a subject of controversy.
Meanwhile, a random opinion conducted by our correspondent showed that most people in the commercial city have little or no time to go to the mall for shopping which according to them was luxury for the wealthy people and not the lower income earners and business men. “Oga, that thing no go work for Onitsha oh.
Who get time to go there to buy tomatoes or yam when you can pick it in Ose Okwuodu market at a cheaper price? They are just wasting their time. For me, I will not even go there unless I am going for site seeing” “Well, I think the idea of citing a shopping mall in the city is a wise one and a step in right direction”, said another trader “but my fear was that it may not survive competition.
You see Onitsha is a commercial city and everywhere in and around the town, you find open one market or the other. There is nothing you can find in that place that you cannot find along the street of Onitsha, even at a cheaper rate,” said a trader in the city.
“Another one is the level of literacy in the commercial city” a commercial motorcyclist said. “Most of the people here are traders that deal with one good or the other. They have all varieties of the commodity around them.
“There are no universities or other higher institutions either from where the students can come to make shopping like that one in Enugu State and the level of government institutions in Onitsha is quite low. I doubt if it will survive.” However the general opinion about the Shoprite is that the apathy already shown by the people and the investment made by the owners of the Shoprite could have been channelled into other ventures.