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Kaduna’s Kasuwan Barci’s last days

Since the Kaduna State government made public its intention to demolish the expansive Kasuwan Barci market, things have not remained the same at the ever…

Since the Kaduna State government made public its intention to demolish the expansive Kasuwan Barci market, things have not remained the same at the ever busy location in Tudun Wada, Kaduna South Local Government Area.

From the feeling of triumph over control of one of the stae’s largest markets in terms of volume of trade, the traders now live with fear of when bulldozers would come rolling. Many however, have decided to stay put hoping that government will change its mind and reconsider another location to build a new market.

The market derived its name from its early stages of formation in the mid ‘70s, when the then military government demolished the central market and compelled traders to move to the Tudun Wada area, which was then sparsely populated.

Oral history has it that it was when the first set of traders arrived there and experienced very low patronage, idled away and slept in their shops till the close of day, that the traders in mockery started  referring to the market as ‘kasuwan Barci’ (sleepy market).

While the name has stuck over the years, activity in the market has since shot up beyond the expectations of traders, and the market has not only become a beehive of commercial activities, but has expanded.

It is estimated currently that there are over 4,800 shops in the market with a daily turnover of over N500 million with more than 30,000 persons earning their livelihood from the market.

The market is known for its textile and fairly used clothing, so much that people who specialize in the business have come to see it as a veritable meeting point. 

In this regard, because of the effect it would have on commerce and private enterprise, many have advised the government to reconsider its plan to demolish the market, saying the timing is not right, since people are experiencing hardship.

But the state government has explained that the demolition is part of its plan to modernize and develop the state and that four other major markets in the state would be affected.

Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai explained at a recent media chat that the planned reconstruction of the market would serve to upgrade the facilities at the market, increase its capacity and size as well as the volume of commercial activities from what is currently obtainable. He said those opposed to the idea are thinking only about themselves while the government is thinking about the future of their children and that of the next generation.

The governor said such plans have to be accommodated as the population in the metropolis is increasing and with an estimated three million people living in Kaduna currently, it is expected that in the next 20 years it would almost double to about five million, hence the need to prepare for it. 

But some of the traders disagree with the government, saying they suspect the government does not really want to demolish the market but rather is trying to send them away to claim the space so as to allocate to government officials and their cronies.

The state governor however assured the traders who have shops in the market that they would not lose their right to shops after the reconstructing and encouraged those of them that are not clear about any issue to seek explanation from the Kaduna Investment and Property Development Agency (KADIPA). 

One of the traders, Alhaji Abdullahi A. Isah who said he has spent 30 years in the market, described the plan to demolish the market as wrong because the government did not think deeply about the matter before deciding on it. He said the market has been in existence for over 40 years now and the traders have invested huge resources to renovate and upgrade it to more than mere buildings and have not utilized it for up to 25 years now. 

“At this time and in the situation we are in this country, we don’t consider it progress for the government to say they will demolish the market,” Isah said. “What we want from the government, if the government really wants our progress, is for them to look for people who don’t have enough capital and help them to grow their businesses.”

Isah pointed out that there are those who inherited the shops from their parents who may not be alive now, while some are living inside the market. He expressed concern over how such classes of people would be taken care of if the bulldozers roll in.

 “From what we hear, the government will take the shop and if you want it back they will sell it to you at two million naira.  How can someone who doesn’t have two hundred naira as capital in this situation be able to afford that?” He said, adding that the government should have a rethink because the buildings are up to standard, are well decked and planned. Also, that they did not build the market without consulting the right authorities twenty five years ago.

Another trader, Alhaji Auwalu Sule said demolishing Kasuwan Barci would bring hardship to the people. “Our problem now is not a new building. We want the capital to grow our business because the government are not doing anything to us in this market. We provide security for the market and all the necessary things. We also were paying revenue from between N800 to N2, 500. 

“When this government came they stopped the payment of revenue to check the process and we have not paid for eight months. The government later said we would pay N20, 000 to N25, 000 and finally we settled at N15, 000. Then our leaders talked to the government on our behalf and we agreed to be paying N5, 000,” he said.

Alhaji Abdulrahman Muhammed Mai Turare who is the head of a committee in the market, said as far as he is concerned, the market is already modern and upgraded and the government should consider the number of youths that would be displaced if the market is demolished.

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