With more than 2, 000 shops and hundreds of traders and numerous shoppers daily, Orange Market in Mararaba is fast turning into the epicentre of consumer goods, food items, and fruits.
Though it is located in Nasarawa State, it is about 12 kilometres to AYA Roundabout, Asokoro, driving through New Karu, Nyanya and Kugbo on the Abuja-Keffi Expressway. However, it could take about two hours to make the 12 kilometres stretch to the market, while a return trip to Abuja could take a longer time.
Several shoppers, especially restaurateurs, defy the traffic gridlock on the Mararaba axis to the market. Despite the high patronage and residents’ preference, the market is riddled with poor drainage systems, inadequate car parks, and poor hygiene.
But a shopper, Janet Adeyinka, who resides at Kado Estate was at the market to buy vegetables, tomatoes and other ingredients. The wedding and event planner said she would not mind stepping into mud and turns blind eyes to some part of the markets filled with filth, “as long as what I am getting is cheaper than in other places.”
The General Secretary of the Market’s Dealers Association, Adamu Musa, said six sections make up the market. Musa, who is also a member of Fruit and Vegetable Sellers Association, said there is a section for fruits and vegetables, another section for yam dealers while orange, pawpaw and watermelon dealers have a section. There is also a section for carrot, cabbage, and cucumber. The remaining sections are for Irish potatoes and sugarcane dealers.
The affairs of the sections are coordinated by different associations but still accountable to the general chairman of the market, Ibrahim Nana. Musa, who spoke on behalf of the general chairman said the market is unique because it is free from government control.
“This market was built by the union. All the structures were built by the union. The government interventions were in terms of infrastructure outside the market. Within the market, it is our responsibility to fix everything, the road within the market and other facilities was done by the association,” he said.
Residents, traders, motorists and shoppers are divided on the performance of the union in providing amenities within the market.
The chairman of the Transporters Service Union at the market, Isa Bala Kontagora, said due to the high number of vehicles to the park, the existing car parks where inadequate. He said though there are more than four entrances to the market, there’s always traffic congestion.
“We have problem with our parking space in the market. During the rainy season, our vehicles get trapped in the mud which sometimes affect the products we convey to the market. We have appealed to the market authorities to grade the parking space to avoid problems during the rainy season,” he said.
He said more than 50 trucks from different parts of the country convey goods to the market daily.
“We do not have a fixed number of vehicles that come to the market because every dealer can hire a vehicle to convey his product to the market,” he said, adding that there are times when the trucks cause traffic congestion in the market.
The chairman of the Sa’a Yam Dealers’ Association, Faruk Yale, said his section has no problem, “We do not have a problem in the yam market. Even during the rainy season, our unit does not encounter problems,” he said.
But a trader at the cabbage & carrot market, Isma’il Ibrahim, said things were not the same in his section.
“During the rainy season, we face challenges because the section is water-logged. Though the road has been graded, there is no drainage so the water gathers at a spot. Sometimes when it rains and the place is waterlogged, the customers would not like to come in and buy stuff. They will prefer to wait outside or scout for it elsewhere. It affects our sales during the rainy season,” he said.
Residents at the market, when Daily Trust Saturday visited, were going about their businesses but for the dust, but the same could not be said in a few weeks at the start of the rainy season.
There are hundreds of Abuja residents like Janet Adeyinka who travel to Nasarawa State to buy their food items. The market attracts more shoppers from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) than Nasarawa State. Several residents from Lokogoma, Gwarimpa, Wuse and other locations in the territory flood the market.
Another shopper, Modesta Uche, an Apo resident, said the market is also the toast of many restaurateurs and hoteliers because unlike Gwoza and Karmo markets which are only opened to residents on Fridays and Tuesdays respectively, trading takes place at Orange Market daily.
She said shoppers need not drive through bad roads anymore as the market now has a better road, “the road from the medical centre to the market is now tarred and a bridge also constructed. So, we no longer experience dust and traffic congestion.
“The only problem is getting to the market junction from Mararaba Road. From that junction to the market, it is smooth and free. In fact, I always beg the okada man not to over speed,” she said.
While the road outside the market delights Modesta, Hauwa Ali said she only enjoy going to the market before the rainy season. Ali said the market is unbearable when it rains “because the water does not flow. You will have to be pull your dress up and be careful not to slip and fall,” she said.
Meanwhile, Adamu Musa said the union is aware of the challenges in the market and it is working ‘tirelessly’ in ensuring that the market is better than some markets in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
He said the market was built by six different unions but supervised by the general chairman, Ibrahim Nana, “He tried to make them united and here is the secretariat of all the unions. Under his leadership, we used our revenue to build the market gradually and we are still building. With time, there would be drainage in the market.”
He said the union got a contribution of N45m from the Nasarawa State government, which was used for the electrification, culverts, designing, and mapping of the market.
Adamu said the union collects revenue but it is shared with the Karu Local Government Area.
“I can’t say precisely what we generate; the revenue comes depending on the quantities of goods coming into the market. You may get N100, 000 this week and next week you get N80, 000,” he said.
The former Nasarawa State governor, Alhaji Umaru Al-Makura, in 2015, donated N20m to traders to facilitate the completion of the new Orange Market in Mararaba. He commissioned the Ta’al community new orange market in 2016.
The governor, during the commissioning of the market, had assured traders that market development was one of the cardinal objectives of his administration.
The incumbent governor, Abdullahi Sule, also holds the market in high esteem as he had also commissioned some projects in the market while celebrating his 100 days in office.