After losing millions of naira in the recent fire that razed shops at Karmo market, the traders are now struggling to start afresh amid economic hardship.
When Aso Chronicle visited Karmo, some traders were seen constructing wood and zinc stalls to continue with their businesses.
Looking pensive with sweat drenching their bodies, they scurried around trying to fix things in the barely recognisable market, as the old one has been reduced to ashes.
Some of the traders who spoke to our reporter said they have to start all over again and avoid sitting idle at home, worrying.
Mr Raphael Nwabala who was affected by the fire disaster said, “I lost close to N10 million to the fire incident because; my shop and my warehouse were both affected.”
He said before the unfortunate incident, business was moving well but the 30th November fire destroyed everything and now he has to start all over again.
“We thank God for sparing our lives but life is no longer easy after the fire incident. What I have now is not even up to 10 per cent of what I used to have but I have to start from somewhere and I am trusting God that I will grow from here,” he said.
Mr Nwabala said it is difficult to cope and so he is waiting patiently to see if the government will come to their aid.
He said he has never accessed loan to run his business, but this condition has caused him to apply for a N2 million loan to one of the commercial banks he has been banking with for years. He is yet to get their reply.
Malam Ibrahim Aliyu was a rice, beans and other grains wholesale dealer but his shop was reduced to ashes and he is now striving for a new start.
He said he was confused when he was called over the fire incident. He said he had just stocked his shop with goods for the yuletide season.
“When they called us that night I rushed to enter the shop but people held me back because the fire was too much. I couldn’t recognise my shop again. In the morning when I got there, everything had turned to ashes. It was a painful incident,” he said.
A business woman and a wholesale distributor, Mrs Eze Perpetual, while recounting her ordeal said, “As you see inside this whole market I am the only person supplying cheese balls. The company supplies me a trailer load of 2000 bags each time they come. This is aside other goods I sell in my shop but everything was burnt.”
She said she was not only affected economically but psychologically, adding that there is nothing to count on. “I’ve been sitting down at home but my neighbours in the market had to come and plead with me to come out. Some of them gave me goods to sell and in the evening they will come and collect their money. One of them gave me this umbrella to shield myself from the sun, another one gave me a table because people have started constructing their shops but I couldn’t due to lack of money,” she said.
Another trader, Alhaji Kehinde Ajide, said he lost goods over N7 million but believed that he will bounce back by the grace of God through the support of friends and his customers.
“Some customers and friends supported me and that is how I have been able to start all over again and I know everything will be alright. I have never taken loan and my business has been doing well. I don’t intend to take loan either. I know I will bounce back with the help of God,” he said.
He added that they were expecting help from the government based to the promise by FCT minister, Muhammadu Bello and his team, when they came to sympathise with them. “But we know government procedure takes time so we are looking forward to seeing it come to pass.”
The chairman of the traders’ association in the market, Okechukwu Sylvanus, said people have to start erecting their shops because at a time like this there is no shoulder to lean on and the traders have to take responsibility.
He said although they have taken the names of the affected traders to the FCT minister, AMAC chairman and NEMA, soliciting for help but they are yet to receive feedback. “But we are all hopeful that our voices would be heard.
“As you can see, temporary construction is going on by individual effort because nobody has come to our aid yet. So, we have to erect the shops by ourselves. Some have banks that lend them money for the shops here but it’s still an individual thing.”