Busi­ness women count losses af­ter Kuje mar­ket bomb­ing

Daily Trust - - BUSINESS - By Olayemi John-Mensah & Lat­i­fat Opoola

In the af­ter­math of the twin bomb blast that rocked the Kuje main mar­ket last Fri­day, women traders in the Kuje Area Coun­cil are lament­ing low pa­tron­age of their busi­nesses.

The sec­ond blast, which wreaked havoc on lives and prop­er­ties, oc­curred di­rectly in front of the main mar­ket, which has now been cor­doned off by sol­diers, with an armoured tank and all.

Traders and con­sumers have since then been us­ing the rear end of the mar­ket to ac­cess it to sell and buy. Our cor­re­spon­dent ob­served yesterday that many shops and stalls re­mained closed, while traders, of course mostly women, who dis­played their wares in the open, were vis­i­bly gripped by fear. As a fish seller told the Daily Trust, “we have to risk selling here in this sit­u­a­tion be­cause we must eke out a liv­ing.”

Busi­ness vol­ume has since been low at the mar­ket, with women, who con­sti­tute a greater per­cent­age of the traders’ pop­u­la­tion, mostly af­fected.

Mrs Bimpe Amodu, who sells agidi and moin­moin, told our re­porters that her petty trad­ing has suf­fered tremen­dously since the blast oc­curred. Mrs Amodu re­called busi­ness was good for her at the van­tage spot where she had her small ta­ble un­til the bomb blast di­rectly af­fected the spot. The spot is ac­tu­ally part of the area presently bar­ri­caded by the se­cu­rity op­er­a­tives and their pa­trol ve­hi­cles.

The trader lamented how pa­tron­age has fallen since she was com­pelled to re­lo­cate to a con­gested area in the rear of the mar­ket where traders and buy­ers push and shove to do their bits. “Most of my cus­tomers don’t come through my new stand any­more, and even those that ply the route don’t stop to buy be­cause this present route is very con­gested and crowded. I used to earn a profit of, at least, N3,000 a day but now I barely make up to N1,000,” she moaned.

The busi­ness woman feared busi­ness vol­ume might just not be the same again at the Kuje main mar­ket, “at least, for a long while.”

Mama Ada, a fish seller at the mar­ket, cor­rob­o­rated. By her ac­count, the fish seller was, un­til the blast, go­ing home with, at least, N6,000. “But at the last mar­ket day, I barely made half the price,” she said.

She com­plained that due to the bar­ri­caded area by se­cu­rity per­son­nel, buy­ers now avoid the mar­ket and go else­where to buy their goods.

“This poses a very

big chal­lenge for us. I sell fish and most days then, I would sell off my car­ton of fish the same day once opened. Now, it takes me two days to sell off one car­ton of fish. It is frus­trat­ing,” she cried.

Iya De­mola, a roasted plan­tain seller who said she op­er­ates mostly at night, was more thank­ful she es­caped death by the whiskers than count­ing her naira-and-kobo losses since she stopped com­ing to the mar­ket to trade since the in­ci­dent.

The plan­tain seller, who said her stand was very close to the spot where the blast oc­curred, nar­rated how she could have been con­sumed by the blast: “My baby was very ill on that day and so I had to take the day off from busi­ness. I be­lieve my death was not up, else oth­ers would be telling my story now.”

Ha­jia Saratu Ya­haya, who op­er­ates a pep­per grind­ing ma­chine in the mar­ket, lamented how her busi­ness has suf­fered a great set­back since the bomb tragedy.

“This is the only busi­ness I have to sup­port my fam­ily. I grind toma­toes, pep­per and other in­gre­di­ents. There had been no day I wasn’t ex­pe­ri­enc­ing good pa­tron­age. But since the bomb­ing, pa­tron­age has re­duced. At least, I used to take home be­tween N4000 and N6000 on a good mar­ket day, but to earn up to N1,500 is now a big prob­lem. Peo­ple are avoid­ing this mar­ket,” she said.

Madam Chioma, who sells soup in­gre­di­ents and veg­eta­bles, prayed that the glory of the mar­ket be re­stored fast. While stress­ing that the lives lost in bomb blast were more tragic and dear, she be­lieved busi­ness vol­ume would creep back with time.

She waxed philo­soph­i­cal, “We can­not ex­pect busi­ness to just pick up like that. We are talk­ing of loss of many lives here.”

She said since Mon­day, she has been mak­ing brief ap­pear­ances at the mar­ket, un­like be­fore when she would come in the morn­ing and trade till late in the evening. Apart from pa­tron­age which Madam Chioma noted was not en­cour­ag­ing, she ad­mit­ted that she, like many of her fel­low traders in the mar­ket, are still un­able to shake off the trauma of the bomb blast and are gripped by fear of the un­known, as re­gards Boko Haram at­tacks.

The scene of last Fri­day's bomb blast at Kuje Mar­ket in Abuja.

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