Vehicle dealers, buyers get new deal in Ondo
On January 28, 2012 · In Business

The construction of a modern auto-mart for vehicle dealers in Akure by the Governor Olusegun Mimiko administration at a cost of N350m, has restored sanity in the automobile business in the sunshine state, reports OUR CORRESPONDENT.

Residents of Akure, the Ondo State capital heaved a sigh of relief recently when the state government relocated all the automobile dealers in the metropolis to the newly constructed auto mart located on the Akure-Owo by-pass.

A cross section of dealers

First, they believed that the development had reduced drastically, traffic congestion on Oyemekun Road where many of the dealers took over one of the two lanes to display their vehicles for prospective buyers thereby causing great snarl-up situation.

Apart from that, the residents now have an opportunity to select their choice from the various brands on display at the automart at competitive market prices as against situations whereby already sold cars were often repackaged and re-sold as new ones to unsuspecting buyers.

A cross section of dealers in the state in separate interviews with our correspondent, expressed great relief that the automart, built in a location where they do not interfere with vehicular or human movements, has added value to their business.

Many people had believed that idea of constructing an auto mart in a special location for all car dealers was impossible, however, the story is different as the state-of-the-art massive structure is not only functional but also being patronized by buyers from across the South-West and South-South areas of the country.

The project was conceived to be a major market for all brands of cars, like what was obtainable in neighbouring countries like Benin and Togo, where they are built on the city outskirts. They are massed in the same location so that customers not only have access to variety but the advantage of comparing prices and options.

Since its inauguration six months ago, the car dealers, in separate interviews, agreed that the concept of an Auto Mart is another good intervention that will help them and ease their suffering and that of the buyers too. They said that their initial fears of whether all of them would be accommodated had been allayed with the numerous shops and spaces provided form them.

Located opposite the Akure office of the Federal Road Safety Commission, Akure Office beside the NNPC Mega Filling the auto market was built to accommodate more than 1000 vehicles, sectioned into lots of 20 cars each. This made it easier for the cars to be displayed for the attention of would-be buyers.

Built at a total cost of N350m, the complex now accommodate cars, buses and trucks and it is confined by an open-view iron grid wall with stone-pitched finishing. It is divided into lots, each of which has the capacity to accommodate 20 vehicles. The trailer section is separated from the buses and cars’ lots.

The facility features a three-stand car wash, fire sub-station, mechanic workshop, 160 dealers offices’ in four blocks, public toilets, a central administrative office, 25-seater restaurant, suya spot, police post, meeting hall, accessories’ shops as well as an expansive green area. The entire mart is asphalted and drained in line with its elevated, sloped terrain.

Provision was made for two banking halls for the use of the car dealers and their customers in the complex. There are also provisions for insurance companies which may wish to operate from the mart.

No fewer than 70 auto dealers had been relocated by the authorities to the complex and the development had paved the way for current road expansions and beautification, under the urban renewal scheme that will transform the somewhat development-starved, civil servants’ urban centre.

The project was entirely funded by the state government according to the Senior Special Assistant to the state Governor on Direct Labour, Mrs. Mobolaji Tunde-Suara, who supervised its construction. She said the investment will be recouped via lease of lots and office spaces to dealers, display of brand new vehicles by major manufacturers, branding of buildings and LCD billboards’ displays.She pointed out that an autonomous body would be constituted to maintain the property, while a vehicle licensing post will be established. She added that a second phase was under way and would incorporate facilities like a car spray centre, automated car wash and a crèche.

She said, “The government has built an international-standard auto-mart in Akure, where people can come from different areas in and outside the country to buy valuable cars for themselves. It is a world-class initiative and the first of its kind in the whole of Africa as testified to by the Governors’ Forum Assessment Committee when they visited a while ago.

“All the facilities have been factored in to enable the take-off of a functional and effective market for auto mobiles to ease the daily stress of dealers and to take the burden off the shoulders of buyers who have had to go through the rigours of movement in the city centre to perform what ought to be an easy job of becoming car owners.” She stated.

Some residents in separate interviews believed that the lots will be adequate and that it conforms to international realities in the area of location.

Chairman of Ondo State Motor Dealers Association, Mr. Ayodele Owoyemi, initially insisted that the N300, 000 initially demanded by the government for a space was outrageous. He, however convinced his members later, to relocate after an extensive dialogue with his members.

Tunde-Suara, had wondered then, why the dealers were complaining about being over charged by government when they paid higher fees at places they were hitherto operating from.

She had said, “I don’t think that the fees being charged by government are too high if one considers the facilities provided at the site of the auto mart. It is highly ridiculous that these dealers want to pay N60, 000 yearly for each space that can accommodate 20 cars at a time.”

A notable automobile dealer, Mr. Ifeanyi Odili, who lost his sleep recently when one of his cars was stolen from the premises of his shop on the popular Hospital Road in Akure, agreed that the complex would guarantee security of their vehicles and office equipment.

He, however, expressed fears that having all the dealers in a single location could lead to bitter jealousy especially when five of them were made to share a single office space.

Odili said, “Although the arrangement would guarantee security of our vehicles but of the security of our lives. Some people out of envy could decide to adopt traditional means to harm or even kill anyone considers to be recording more sales than them. This could be avoided if everybody is not in the same place”

Investigations by our correspondent revealed that the dealers have been adopting aggressive marketing strategies to sell their vehicles while the buyers expressed confidence that stolen vehicles could not find their ways to the complex.

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