Since the Muhammadu Buhari International Market Karu was commissioned in 2018 it has remained dormant as traders desert the market for the roadsides. While some traders lament exorbitant fees, few that could afford the shops said they do not enjoy good patronage.
Traders at the Muhammadu Buhari International Market, Karu, located at the headquarters of Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, have raised the alarm over high cost shops.
Daily Trust Saturday reports that the market, which was commissioned on February 5, 2018 by President Muhammadu Buhari during the administration of former Governor Umar Tanko Al-Makura, has remained dormant.
The market, which was subsequently named after the president, was handed over to the Abuja Market Management Limited, with a view to generating revenue for the state for a period of five years – 2014 to 2019.
Our correspondent who went to the market observed that there were not much business activities as some of the shops were locked and grasses have overtaken some of them.
It was gathered that the Abuja Market Management Limited allocated the shops and placed a 21-square-meter shop at N420,000, in addition to service charges of N96,600 for two years as rent, amounting to N516,600. Our correspondent was told that this condition did not go down well with the traders, who were chased out from Mararaba roadside as they could not afford the rent; hence they prefer to continue doing their businesses by the roadside.
Our correspondent further learnt that those who were initially allocated the shops were not the original traders but dealers in various goods who preferred to pay for warehouses rather than shops, thereby frustrating small business owners.
It was also observed that some of the shops have been converted to residential apartments, while part of the facility is used for rearing cattle.
Mrs Chinwe Ogbonna, one of the traders who deal on secondhand cloths, told our correspondent that she could not afford the cost of the shops, lamenting that since she was forced to leave the Mararaba roadside market, nothing seems to move as expected. She noted that she lost most of her customers because most of them were not aware that she moved to the international market.
“None of my customers knows that I have relocated to the market; and some of them, instead of proceeding to Karu market, decided to patronise other traders who refused to relocate.
“Nothing seems to work at the Karu market because it is a new place. I open my shop from morning till evening but hardly sell up to N20,000. But at Mararaba, each day I opened up my shop I would sell at least N100,000 and above,” she said.
A dealer on cosmetic goods, Mrs Patricia Okah said, “The state government made us to relocate from Mararaba to the Muhammadu Buhari International Market but we cannot afford the shops.
“For crying out loud, how can one pay N516,600 for a shop? I am appealing to the state government to have a rethink and reduce the amount.”
She also lamented that she would open her shop from morning till evening without selling anything, adding that her goods had got spoilt due to lack of patronage.
“I have reported to the management of the international market to look into my plight and allow me display goods outside the market.
“When you go to Mararaba you will see more people, unlike Karu market. Normally, customers would like to stop over at Mararaba and get whatever they want, but that is not the case at the Karu market.
“Some of us are dying of hunger because our capital base has finished and there is nowhere to get it back as customers are no longer coming to this market to patronise us,” she said.
She called on the state government to find a way of forcing traders at Mararaba roadside to the Muhammadu Buhari International Market, Karu.
Another trader, Mr Mubaraq Ibrahim, told our correspondent that if the state government really wants the Karu market to flourish, there is the need to compel traders at Mararaba roadside to relocate.
He also said the state government should consider small businessmen and women and reduce the prices of the shops, adding that government should create awareness and earmark parking spaces for vehicles, saying these would go a long way to motivate both traders and customers.
Reacting to the cost of the shops, the director-general of the Nasarawa State Market Management Bureau of the Muhammadu Buhari International Market, Mr Yakubu Ahmed-Ubangari, disclosed that the state government had decided to reduce the N420,000 rent to N252,000, but the service charge of N96,600 would not be affected.
He said the state government reduced the cost of the shops by 40 per cent so that traders could afford to pay, and they are in different categories.
“We have pleaded with them to come and find spaces to occupy but all our pleas felt on their deaf ears,” he said.
He said the allegation that shops at the Karu market have been converted to warehouses by big businessmen and women was false and targeted at denting the image of the state government by mischief makers.
He explained that the management of the market would collaborate with the Nasarawa State Urban Development Board to relocate traders who have refused to leave Mararaba roadside.
He added that the state government had retrieved the management of the market from the Abuja Market Management Limited and had taken full charge.
He also noted that to generate more revenue for the state, government released 252 lockup shops and 41 stalls in the informal sector to Kano State traders who came to seek Governor Abdullahi Sule’s approval to operate in the market.
On the plight of those who paid the initial N516,600 to the Abuja Market Management Limited, he assured that their shops were still intact, but they would be required to renew their rents.