Hotline: 08135535423 Plight of big building materials suppliers
Dei-Dei International Market, sitting on the north-western fringe of the Federal Capital Territory is said to be one of the largest building materials market in West Africa. Yet, sections of this market are eyesore just as traders lament their pitiable co
Chukwuemeka Okafor, a timber shed machine operator at the Dei-Dei International Market, says: “The problem we have here is shortage of electric power. In a day, we use 20 to 25 litres of diesel which is about N3,600. We want government to assist us in the area of power supply so we can make profit in what we do here.
“Then pollution. It affects us. Burning this dust pollutes the air. When breathing, we feel weak - not much strength to work. We appeal to government to show us far away where to take this dust. When we burn it here, everybody is affected - the whole market is affected. Especially in the rainy season, the smoke is everywhere.”
Apparently, the most badly affected section of the market is the timber side. Roads leading to this market are bad, yet it is here that materials are sourced for the huge construction works in what has become known as the mega city. Sometimes, a lorry brings goods from over a thousand kilometers only to fall on its side while entering the market. The rainy season is a nightmare to the traders because trailers bringing goods from Ibadan or Sapele into this place fall. The goods might get damaged. Many resort to self-help to fix the roads but it does not help them much as not long after, the patched sections collapse.
Then developers or contractors that come to buy building materials might be funny. They get consignment with promise to pay only to continue making promises upon promises.
But apparently, what troubles the traders most is the pollution in the timber section of the market. When Daily Trust visited last Wednesday, smoke was billowing by the side of the market designated saw dust dump site. Also close to this dump site is a big settlement that does not saw wood but inhales thick smoke from saw dust. The community’s numerous complaints have not helped it - the smoke keeps rising.
Chief Peter Ezeadua who is chairman of Dei-Dei International Timber Traders Association is visibly disturbed. He lamented that after paying taxes, they get in return health hazards and lack of amenities. Checks showed that annual rents are paid to Abuja Markets Management Limited (AMML). The Federal Inland Revenue Department also has its share from the traders just like Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC).
Ezeadua said, “The worst of all is solid waste disposal. We’ve gone to several places including the environmental sanitation department of the FCT requesting for a dumping site - we generate a lot of dust. We burn the dust somewhere. The owners of the land complain. They should show us a site. The contamination is high. Some of us can’t see properly anymore.
“In fact, what we saw four weeks ago surprised us. Somebody would go down there as if he is putting timber on the machine, then would collapse. The next thing is paralysis. We had three cases in the last two weeks - two of them are dead. Sudden deaths!
“There might be some harmful chemicals coming from this smoke. If we have dump site to evacuate our solid waste, if we have electricity, it will reduce the burning of this diesel. We need good roads.”
The timber section of the market alone boasts of 1,500 members - casual members, food vendors not included. It is said that on average, 2,000 persons work here. Just as workers are many, there are numerous machines powered by generators using gas, not with public power supply.
The chairman said, “Through selfefforts, we put up poles requesting various governments to give us a transformer to run these heavy duty machines. We’re employers of labour. But up till now, nobody has ever cared to give us a single transformer. These machines breakdown any time and it’s time consuming to run such machines with generators.”
Godwin Nwanesi, former chairman of Doors and Allied Products Marketers Association, Dei-Dei also complained about lack of amenities in the market. He said, “There’re things we can do and can’t do. Water, electricity, roads are in the hands of government. Our roads are very bad. Trucks fall with goods. Sometimes, they get trapped.
“These roads need total rehabilitation not patching. They should do good construction works for the trucks to move freely.”
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer of Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), Mr Joe Ukairo said he was not aware of any pollution in DeiDei Market because it is managed by AMAC. The PRO of AMML, Mr Innocent Obiechena declined to speak on the matter. Similarly, AMAC chairman Mr Mika Jiba did not respond to enquiries made by this reporter.
Dei-Dei Market is divided into five sections: the main market, timber shed,
Chukwuemeka Okafor, a timber shed machine operator, says he is facing health challenge posed by sawdust pollution.
Godwin Nwanesi, former chairman of Doors and Allied Products Marketers Association, is disturbed by lack of amenities
Peter Ezeadua, chairman of Dei-Dei International Timber Traders Association, says timber sellers are dying from pollution