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The rise and fall of a national tourist attraction

Jos Main Market became a nationwide tourist attraction but decades later it is in ruins

Once upon a time, the Jos Main Market was a tourist attraction of a nation and a trading centre that attracted visitors as well as people passing through the city who took in its beauty, massive size and expansive architecture.

But all that changed when a mysterious fire left the complex in rubble and no government was able to restore it to its glory days.

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The market was constructed by the first military administrator, Police Commissioner Joseph Deshi Gomwalk after Jos state was created in 1975.

The project went beyond his 4-year administration due to the complexity and vastness of the market which led to him handing over its completion to Chief Solomon Lar in 1979 who was the first civilian governor of the state.

The market swallowed a large sum of taxpayers' funds and loans from banks which ran into billions of Naira before the project’s completion in 1985.

The huge complex accommodated at least 3,500 traders and  had an open space at the base of the market which was meant to accommodate at least 2,000 shops. The market also had provision for  a police station, fire service station, post office, warehouses and car parks.

The market had a unique design which made it one of the most attractive the most attractive shopping centres in the state which made the federal government regard it as one of the major tourist attractions in the country.

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In February 2002, a mysterious fire outbreak occurred in the massive complex leaving the building nothing more than rubble after 2 days of effort by the state fire service to put it out.

The market, which served for about 16 years until it was destroyed by the fire outbreak, was left in ruins after it could not provide a return on capital invested in it by the government.  Later, in 2014 what was left of Jos Main Market saw further destruction after it was destroyed by more than one Boko Haram bomb blast.

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After the fire outbreak, the administration which was then headed by Senator Joshua Dariye set up a commission of inquiry to find the causes of the inferno but till date, no report of the commission has ever been seen.

Based on the known economical potential of the market, expectations were that succeeding state administrations would make efforts towards the reconstruction of the market but 15 years later nothing has been done.

The former Governor Jonah Jang attempted to relocate the traders to satellite markets on the outskirts of the city like Rukuba, Bukuru, and Faringada satellite markets but the traders refused to go and opted to instead build makeshift shops around the rubble of the burnt market.

Jang even made a proposal to demolish the remnant of the market, evacuate it and replace it with a shopping mall of modern and international standard but his proposal never became more than a proposal.

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The market site in Terminus Jos now has clusters of shops erected by traders at the foot of the now ruined market while other traders take on the streets to display their wares for sale and contest the use of the road with vehicles.

Currently, about 70% of buying and selling take place in Terminus within the vicinity of the main market.

The market that was a tourist attraction in Jos is now a nightmare to the government and citizens alike as the ruined stores serve as hideouts that provide accommodation for criminals in the city; drug addicts, robbers, rapists etc.

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