Business women count losses after Kuje market bombing
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.