Roadside markets are regular features, not only in rural areas but also in urban cities. Though some gigantic markets stretch deeper inside their precincts, they sprawl to main roads, some of which are highways. Although they have enough shops, some traders prefer to operate on the roadside where they display their commodities to attract brisk patronage. Despite that the commonplace trend poses human and vehicular traffic as well as insecurity and accident menaces, roadside markets fester as traders and customers still go about their businesses with alacrity. Daily Trust captures scenarios in some markets across the states with tales of experiences by traders.
Nasiru Abdussalam, a fish seller at Yankura Market officially known as Abubakar Rimi International Market) in Kano, is a family man with three wives, 17 children and nine orphans left under his care by his brother.
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He owns a small (3×2) feet table by the roadside in front of the market where he displays his commodities to attract patronage. Abdussalam said he took position at the roadside due to lack of capital to own or rent a shop inside the main market.
“I don’t have the money to own or even rent a shop inside the market. That is why you see me display what I am selling on the table at the roadside here, which is even a privilege,” he told Daily Trust Saturday.
“We are happy like this and always hopeful that one day, we will go back into the market to own or rent a shop,” he said.
The likes of Abdussalam are many around all major markets in Kano who depend on little spaces by the roadside of the market trying every day to make ends meet.
But there are others like Rabiu Ismail who owns a shop in front of the market but prefers to display all his commodities outside the shop. He told our correspondent that despite owning a shop, it was not enough to display all his goods and could not rent a big one due to the lack of enough capital.
“As you can see, I am having just a little that will not make any sense to buyers if they are inside. That’s why I am displaying them outside. All these people you see by the roadside had been there for years even before the shops were built. That’s where they manage to earn their daily income,” Abdussalam said.
“There are spaces inside the market, but anyone you see here cannot afford a table space (tent) inside, talk less of a shop. But they are happy. There were many people here before who have now relocated into the market. Some of them now own spaces, while others even own shops,” he added.
Daily Trust Saturday gathered that most sellers who operate at the roadside were not paying any fixed amount, either monthly or annually. Yet, they pay the government some form of tax which is usually below N2,000 every year.
Daily Trust Saturday gathered that the roadside location of the market does not pose safety challenge because businesses and or trade operations are regulated. There is a demarcation between the main road and the locations where traders display their products and closely monitored by officials of the state’s Road and Transport Agency (KAROTA), security personnel as well as the market management.
In Plateau State, roadside markets exists in several local government areas. In Jos, the capital city, they spread across Jos North, Jos South, Mangu which are all highly populated areas.
Findings by Daily Trust Saturday indicated that they had, on several occasions, led to mishaps and casualties.
Our correspondent who went around some of the major markets in Jos found out that places like Terminus, Bukuru, Gada Biu, Building Material, Angwan Rukuba, have a lot of roadside traders who go about their businesses without fear of the dangers involved.
Iyabo Adetunji, a trader in Terminus, expressed disgust at some obvious dangers. She, however, noted that most traders did not have any option than to operate on the roadside because so many markets were either dilapidated or stalls and shops were too expensive and unaffordable by some traders.
“In the markets, especially the major ones, stalls and shops are too expensive that many traders can not afford the rent. That is why they display their wares on the roadsides because they don’t have any other option, despite that they have been there for many years. They also do so to attract customers. Everybody is struggling to look for money to survive,” Adetunji said.
She added that roadside marketers also defied the risks because they find the place more strategic as they attract more customers.
Another trader, Sani Yusuf, said: “Some customers are in a hurry and find it more convenient to patronize the roadside sellers.”
Yusuf said another reason that motivated increased roadside trades was presence of hawkers who sold their products cheaper and faster than they were sold inside markets.
“That is why traders have chosen to also flood the roadside because it is not business-wise to pay for a stall inside the market without making sales, while hawkers on the streets are making sales faster without paying for shop,” he said.
He added that even those that have shops inside markets have been giving out their wares to their sales boys/girls to display them by the roadside.
He, however, called on government to ensure affordability of shops and regulate market operations instead of clamping down on roadside traders.
The Chairman of NTA Motor Park, Ibrahim Maikudi, also urged government to ensure sanity in the system to avoid accidents which may occur when vehicles ram into people.
He also called on traders to desist from selling on the highway because of the risks involved.
Maikudi also noted that apart from accidents, some roadside sellers got robbed easier than those that had shops in the markets because robbers found it easier to escape after carrying out their nefarious acts on the road.
Oil Mill, a Port Harcourt midweek market located at Rumuchorlu Community in Obio Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State has continued to constitute nuisance to free flow of traffic along the Aba/Port-Harcourt Road.
The location of the market has also put the lives of traders at the market at risk. The weekly market, which holds every Wednesday, draws traders from different parts of the state. Traders from Aba, Onitsha, Owerri, Akwa Ibom and Umuahia also visit the market to buy and sell.
The chaotic traffic gridlock the market causes every Wednesday along the Aba/Port-Harcourt Road gives traffic wardens sleepless nights.
On Oil Mill Market days, human traffic also causes nuisance along the flyover end of the popular Eleme Road where most of the traders display their goods.
Traders of different categories – boys, girls, women, men, the young and old, struggle to display their wares at every available space along the road. Lorry loads of men and women who come from Aba and other parts of the state also beat traffic to discharge their passengers on the stretch of the road.
On a daily basis, traders and visitors to the market are exposed to accident risks because of the haphazard ways goods and wares are displayed along the road.
Daily Trust Saturday gathered that past government administrations in the state have tried in the past to reallocate the market because of the risks it constitutes to people’s lives and property.
Our correspondent gathered that many lives and property had been lost in the past due to the location of the road.
In 2020, Rivers State Government shutdown the market because of the risk it poses to the users, but reopened it months after.
In that same year, there was a pathetic incident in the market when a mini bus rammed into traders who were displaying their wares on the roadside and killed seven persons, while scores sustained various degrees of injuries.
Some traders at the market who spoke with our reporter said that it was the current difficult economic situation in the country that compelled many of the traders to defy the risks involved in trading at the market, thereby putting their lives on the line.
John Chibuike said: “Many of us know that doing business at Oil Mill is a very big risk. But there is nothing we can do, given the fact that the market is our only source of survival for now. We know that displaying wares on the road amounts to risk. But we have to do that to survive,” he said.
Another trader, Jessica Amadah, said: “Many of the traders that display their wares on the middle of the road have no money to rent shop. Renting shop inside the market is very expensive. That is the reason many traders display their wares on the median of the road, despite the risks involved.”
Salim Umar Ibrahim (Kano), Dickson S. Adama (Jos) & Victor Edozie (Port Harcourt)