From Samuel Bello, Abuja
For a first-time visitor at the popular Karimo Market situated in Abuja, there are countless questions. Some of the posers may range from the reason for the abandonment of the area to why Nigerians empty into the market every Tuesday.
Karimo is located after the Life Camp Junction, along the Gwagwa-Karimo Way, off Jabi, Airport Road, Abuja.
The market, which has existed for more than two decades, is one of the most popular markets in the FCT. Traders from different parts of the country bring their wares to the market every Tuesday.
Most goods on display in the market are fairly used clothing. They dot ever part of the market, with hordes of customers burstling around them.
Arguably, the striking thing about Karimo Market is not that thousands of people stream from diverse parts of the country into it, it is rather that people defy the challenges posed by absence of amenities to come to the market .
The road that leads to the market is in a deplorable state. It is hectic accessing the market. Vehicles that convey goods, traders and customers contend with bone-jarring potholes, dilapidated structures and impassable roads.
The situation is worsened by the rainy season, when the entire market becomes muddy, making it difficult for motorists, who struggle to find a place to park. Traders and customers are also at pains either displaying wares or buying them. The place also oozes out bad smell because of heaps of garbage at the end of the market.
STill, in spite of the drawbacks, it is still a melting point on Tuesdays as people from far and near in the nation’s capital and beyond come to buy goods. The market day has a repeat every Friday, but with lesser appeal.
In a chat with Daily Sun, traders and buyers explained the reason the market has continued to attract huge turnout. They said the crowd is because prices of goods are much cheaper there than what is obtainable elsewhere.
Traders from different markets such as Garki Ultra-Modern market, Wuse Market and Life Camp Market, among others, leave their place of business to showcase their products for sale every Tuesday at Karimo because they have better chances of making more sales.
Some buyers admitted that they go to Karimo Market to get okrika or bend down boutique as secondhand clothes are popularly called not because they cannot afford new clothes but because secondhand clothes are more durable and they get value for thir money.
Uche Nwaigwe, who sells fairly used clothes (okrika) in the market, appealed to the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) authorities to organise the market properly by providing a big permanent site, where AMAC would no longer be “terrorising” them.
His words: “Our union pays N25,000 every year to them and they come around every market day to collect N50 from every trader. These same officials also gave us alternatives to pay for permanent portions where we can sell our goods on Tuesday for the sum of N10,000 or N20,000, depending on the traders familiarity with the authorities. Please, we want this to stop.”
Nwaigwe explained that every trader in the market registers his shop with N15,000, renews his certificate every year with N5,000 and pays another N5,000 as revenue per shop every year.
“Anytime they come, we pay them because that was the order. But we are still being disturbed by AMAC,” he said.
He appealed to the AMAC authorities to provide a permanent site quickly so, they that they could continue to serve the public in a clement atmosphere devoid of fear of destruction, demolition and losses.
Speaking to our correspondent, Mr. Isaac Attah, who sells fairly used products such as bicycles, torchlights, power banks and other appliances, said he brings his goods from Wuse Market to sell at Karimo Market every Tuesday; he noted that, 90 per cent of the time, he makes good profit because of the influx of people to the market.
“This market is very popular and anytime I mount my things for sale here, people buy them from me. Today, I have sold out at least what I would not have sold if I was at Wuse, where I sometimes go back home with no profit from the whole day of standing under the sun calling buyers to patronise me,” he said.
Attah added that he comes to the market on Friday but the patronage, due to the lower turnout of people, is not encouraging compared to Tuesday.
Another trader who sells yam, Hamisu Rabiu, a resident of Kaduna State who comes to Abuja every Tuesday to trade, lamented the stressful journey to transport yam tubers to Abuja.
Rabiu, however, added that the influx of people to Karimo Market has made his business very lucrative and helpful in taking care of his family and crippled father.
“I live on the outskirts of Kaduna State, which keeps me far from the market. I most times sell on the expressway along Kaduna-Abuja road and sometimes it proves difficult,” he said.
He also urged the AMAC officials to use the dues traders pay to them and properly clear the accumulated heaps of garbage in the market.
His words: “Every Tuesday, they collect N50 naira from us and they say it is for maintenance, whereas it is going into their pockets. I am sure that the amount they make from each of us in this market is more than enough to fix the roads and keep the market very clean, but they refuse, for some reasons unknown to us.”
Rosemary Ozuruigbo, who was rummaging for beautiful tops and gowns in a bale of okrika, said she doesn’t dis-close to anyone asides close relations that her clothes are fairly used, to avoid anyone looking down on her outfit.
“It doesn’t mat-ter how expensive a dress is or the boutique it was bought from, what matters is how well it fits. I usually wash and iron them and no one would ever think that I bought them from here (Karimo Market),” she said.
Similarly, Mr. Segun Arogundade, a father of two, who was at the car park of the market, said that he comes to the market every Tuesday and Friday unfailingly with his wife to buy food items because goods in Karimo Market “are extremely cheap.”
Arogundade said his wife comes to Karimo on Tuesday to buy food condiments and has never missed a day.
According to him, “I can’t remember the last time my wife missed this market day, she is always looking forward to that day, it is a routine for her. I drop her sometimes when I can and she comes on her own when I am not available.
“This market is one that 80 per cent of Abuja residents are very familiar with. The current period of reduced economic activities has also made people rush to the market, majority do not have money to throw away in this period, so they would rather not miss the opportunity to get what they want very cheap,” said Arogundade.
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