Written by Ere-ebi AGEDAH

The menace of Abuja dirty markets

Abuja like most populated cities has a good number of markets scattered around, with different types of markets set to cater for the needs of the various economic strata of the city.
From rural markets like the Gosa market, to the ultra-modern market in Wuse, these markets are always a beehive of activities every day of the week especially on market days and at weekends when residents are normally off work.
The influx of people to these markets on a daily bases not only translates to economic gains but also, increase in waste deposits.
Unfortunately, wastes generated from most markets in Abuja are most times left unattended, living them to accumulate and decompose. The suffocating stench from most of these markets can favorably compete with that from dumpsites, suggesting the health hazards Abuja residents are exposed to.
METRO observe that the food section of most markets in the FCT are the filthiest, where food items are displayed close to heaps of garbage. Ironically this section happens to be the most visited with over 70percent commercial activities in most market said to be carried out in the food section where food items, including fruits and vegetables that are sold and consumed raw.
At the Wuse market for instance, the food and abattoir section constantly oozes of decomposed food and animal blood. Traders in this section seem to evade the prying eyes of the market management due to their location at the extreme end of the market. Some of the traders who spoke with our Correspondent blamed the poor state of the market on buyers who carelessly drop unwanted items, such as food and used containers. The traders insist they play their part by cleaning their stalls on daily bases, but cannot be blamed for the state of the passage and canals.
Mama Kelechi who sells soup condiments at the Wuse market, told our correspondent that traders in the market try their best to clean up their areas before they commence sales for the day but along the day, due to movement and market activities when one visits midday the place would have been covered with dirt.
She therefore attributed the state of the market to human activities, “we clean, sweep the market every day of which we even have a designated sanitation days, that day no one open his or her stall until the whole market has been cleaned up.
“We do not like a dirty place either, we have families at home that want us safe, strong and healthy, but at times after we have done our bit it is hard really access where the dirt begins to emanate from either the buyers, or the sellers but we know so people eat and throw things on the floor, without using the trash bins. She said. 
She however pleaded with AEPB intensify on its efforts in market clean up, adding that they are willing to work and abide by the rules put in place to maintain better hygiene and improve the state of the market.
The Kubwa village market is also notorious for its filth, as tall garbage heaps are a constant site at the entrance to the market. Though waste collection is more coordinated at the Olajumoke Akinjide ultra-modern market at Dutse Alhaji, the collection of refuse at the edge of the market does not only constitute health hazards to customers, but also an eyesore to passersby.
While the some buyers may be blamed for their contributing in making the markets dirty, investigations have shown that most traders would rather dump the refuse collected from their stalls into the gutters and water ways provided, than to pay for them to be moved. These unwholesome activities are more in the rainy season when the rains are expected to move the refuse from the markets to a central point. Years of such practice has however clogged these canals living the refuse right where they were collected.
A buyer who was seen buying meat from the abattoir at Wuse market said buyers cannot be held responsible for the state of the market. She said it is unrealistic for market sellers to accuse a person who spends less than an hour at a place of mishandling compared to the trader who spends up to 10hours in the market.
The customer buyer who gave her name as Mrs. Kufure asked, “How can anyone say the buyers dirty the market when we spend such little time here, I come in buy and leave immediately. Interesting to note most persons do not want to stay longer than usual because of the dirtiness of the market. At some point I do not barging for long because I need to leave as soon as I get here.
She also attributed the dirtiness to the rainy season, unlike the dry season when the sun is hot and will quickly dry up the dirt.
“I can only add that we need a clean market environment. Whoever has been saddled with this responsibility should live up to it. We do not need to eat and die but eat and live, not all of us can patronize the supermarkets which should be the alternative and some of us do not even like to shop at the supermarkets where we cannot bargain.”
Aside the dirt the markets, except for the ultra-modern ones, are most time in deplorable state due to the lack of maintenance and respect for basic hygiene rules by both buyers and sellers. For instance most of the markets visited had no functional incinerators where dirt are collected and burnt at the end of the day. Most of the markets also do not have toilet facilities, and when these are available, they are in terrible conditions that can hardly be put to use.
Attempts to speak with the leadership of the Kubwa village market proved abortive, as the executive is said to be undergoing a transitional process.

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