In Jos, a night market, known as Kasuwan Dare, has thrived for decades and has evolved with the times. Our correspondents in Jos write about this enchanting market, the traders and the people who patronize them.
For over three decades, small scale traders around Jos city’s famous Terminus market would converge by the road sides after market hours. They’d spread their wares on the main road between 6pm and 12 midnight to attract late night shoppers especially career men and women who often close late from work. From behind the Terminus area, down to Yan Taya junction and to Yan Kwalli and Yan gwon-gwon is what has for years been referred to as ‘Kasuwar Dare’ or night market in Jos. Being a free for all market, with no stalls, no market union or security agents to regulate their activities, the traders have today extended the market to parts of Ahmadu Bello Way.
Kasuwar Dare was in the past as congested at night as it was in the day time but this congestion had in December 2014 attracted the attention of terrorists when a twin bomb blast left more than 30 people dead. The blast had occurred after 6pm when the traders were settling in around the terminus roundabout and the Mr. Biggs roundabout at Ahmadu Bello Way, where the market has now extended to.
Since then, it’s been a cat and mouse chase between traders, security agents and officials of the Jos Metropolitan Development Board (JMDB) who see the activities of the traders as not only a nuisance to other road users but a security threat.
However, in the last one year, traders say they have been left alone to carry on their activities in peace with no harassment from security agents.
The mostly dim lights coming from torch lights, rechargeable lanterns and candles in Kasuwar Dare give the area a sense of serenity for both customers and passersby.
The market, according to one of the traders was more of leisure time for especially men who come out in the evening to stroll, relax and chat with others. With ‘mai suya,’ by the side, fruit sellers and ‘mai shayi,’ Kasuwar Dare most often attracts young and middle-aged men.
Mohammed Sa’id is a part-time trader who does other menial jobs in the day time and sells various kinds of shoes at night. Sa’id who started selling shoes in the market eight years ago said he often spread his wares around 6pm but by 9:30pm, he is ready to return home.
“It is worth it because on a good day I am able to make about N10,000 sales and other days I make between N3,000 and N4,000,” he said.
For 35-year-old Muhammad Yusuf who sells bread, the night market is perfect for his business because most bakeries bake in the afternoon, giving him the opportunity to sell them fresh to his customers at night.
“Most of my customers are those travelling or returning from a journey at night or workers who close from work late,” he said.
Yusuf who started his business about 15 years ago, usually arrives the market before 6pm and stays for the next four hours, chatting with other traders. He rakes in a daily sale of between N5,000 and N7,000.
Most items sold in the market include food like kebab, fruits, bread and others. You would also find cosmetics, shoes of different types, shirts, books, electronics, second hand clothes, watches, DVDs and many more.
The traders either use wheelbarrows with large parasols or simply display them on sacks spread on the ground. With their beaming torch lights tied to the edges of their umbrellas or wooden wheelbarrow trays to illuminate their wares, the market is set from 6pm and reaches its peak between 7pm and 9pm before eventually closing at 12midnight. In the past they used locally made lamps, known as aci-balbal, that burned on kerosene and gave out light accompanied by thick soot.
Even though the raining season is not the best of times for traders, Abubakar Usman, who sells date palm, coconut and tiger nuts explained that the traders are not deterred by the city’s unpredictable weather conditions.
“It is one of the challenges we are facing presently. We sell our wares by the roadside so there are no convenient places to take shelter when the rain comes,” he said.
He lamented that with the rains come low patronage as most customers would likely stay indoors than come out for a stroll. The 30-year-old trader said he has a steady customer base that includes other fellow traders and mostly workers who for work reasons may not have time to come shopping during the day time.
Usman explained that he knows it is a good day when he makes up to N3,000 during the night sales alone.
Fruit vendor Nura Usman told Daily Trust that he uses the night market to target travelers coming from Abuja, Bauchi, Benue, Lafia and other places.
Usman said apart from the rain that hinders their activities, security agents no longer pose a challenge as they have decided to let them be.
He however called on the security agents to instead work round the clock to protect lives and properties of citizens to enable their businesses flourish.
Since December last year when the Plateau State Police command said it would commence raiding the Terminus night market to ensure that terrorists do not take advantage of the crowd, not much has been done to displace the traders.
For most customers however, the night market is not only convenient but provides them the opportunity to buy cheaper goods.
Suleiman Dabo who was buying shoes at the market said, “I think the advantage is that you are able to bargain better, and things are cheaper at the night market.”
For Pam Istifanus, who likes to stroll at night, the night market provides him the opportunity to shop in peace without the day time rush.
“It is relatively safe, the goods are cheaper, the area is not as congested as it is in the day time. So, for me, it’s all about shopping in peace without the afternoon stress,” he said.
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