ARTICLE AND PICTURE BY ZAINABU ISSAH
A MAZE of buyers and sellers squeezed into congested ramshackle sheds with leaky roofs and wooden pillars threatening to give up anytime.
Cacophony of sounds from mosques and preachers blend with those of bus conductors (mates) calling passengers.
An army of houseflies furiously attacking a pile of rubbish left by the roadside.
These are scenes that greet the first time visitor to the Nima Market, one of the vibrant markets in Accra, specifically located in the Ayawaso East Sub-Metro.
Started over 50 years ago and cluttered with over 500 sheds, the market serves Nima, Mamobi, Newtown and the Pig Farm communities.
It also serves as a major wholesale hub for particular farm products, including millet, groundnut, maize, gari, beans, onion, wheat, corn flour and other vegetables.
These produce make their way mostly from the Northern parts of the country and other parts of the West African sub-region hence the Nima market is sometimes referred to as the ‘ECOWAS Market.’
Well known as “ Kasoa Lariba” to wit, Wednesday Market in Hausa, the scene of commercial activities is that of chaos every Wednesday due to the large influx of traders and commercial vehicles competing for space.
Traders who are eager to earn a living invade the pavement and part of the road which is meant for pedestrians making it barely possible to squeeze through the maze of cars and humans.
|A MARKET WOMAN SELLING HER GRAINS ON MARKET DAY|
Washrooms are non-existent. The only place of convenient stinks so bad that it is always better, according to the traders, to go to nearby houses and plead to ease one’s self.
With a film of sweat dripping down her cheeks, Amina Suleiman, who had just returned from one such visit laments, “The last time I visited that market toilet, I felt like vomiting. The place smells so bad that it can even replace your perfume.”
On market days, the market swarms with both buyers and sellers. Foot traffic becomes so thick that there is always a spill over from the main market onto the main road worsening the already existing ‘go slow.’
There is also the pockets of filth which at the end of the market day piles up all over the place as there are no waste bins or containers to throw the garbage in.
With no drains in the market, the traders end up throwing things that should be in drains onto the floor- sometimes leading to verbal and physical brawls.
The only drains close to the market, which is along the road, is also mostly covered with wooden boards - most of which have outlived their purpose. On a number of occasions, the traders said patrons of the market had sustained injuries.
|A SECTION OF THE MARKET WOMEN ALONG THE ROAD.|
According to her, to stop the selling on the shoulders of the road, the market leadership had employed eight people to deal with the situation but it could not be sustained.
“I could no longer pay for their services because as much as I pay for them to sack them, others attacked the task force created and they sometimes engaged in fights which led to the dissolution of the taskforce,” she explained.
For many of the traders, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly had not lived up to its responsibility of providing facilities for the market even though the traders pay their taxes.
“We have complained on countless occasions about the state of the market but it has not brought us any good news. It is all about we will do it, we’ll do it,” she lamented.
She, therefore, called on the AMA and the Accra Mayor, Mr Alfred Vanderpuye, as a matter of urgency, to honour his promise about the rehabilitation of the market.
“The rains are getting near and we fear to lose the market because structures get damaged anytime there is a downpour. The market has over the years being a source of income for our farmers who bring their produce here for sale and those who sell them. We do not want to lose it,” she said.
With her hands deep in piling up tomatoes on her tray, Aunty Gifty, a trader who had plied her trade in the market for 30 years, observed that the market remained the same for many years.
But those who sell along the road also have a reason. Hajia Rukaya, who had been selling millet along the road over the last five years, told the Daily Graphic that the cost of shed in the market was too expensive and people liked to shop along the road rather than in the market.
The state of the market during the rainy season is also not an incentive she said.
“During the raining season, the market becomes flooded and this is a disadvantage to the traders because they all come out to sell on the streets.”
|AN TYPICAL WEDNESDAY SCENE OF THE MARKET.|
“When it rains, those in the market also come out to the streets to sell their produce. So what difference does it make when I sell on the street rather than be in the market where I pay huge sums of money for a shed but have to come out to the street again when it rains?”
She, however, said that the only way to leave the streets was when the market was rebuilt to accommodate all traders.
Following the recent visit of President John Evans Atta Mills to the Nima Market, it has suddenly become a centre of attraction and considerable interest especially with foreigners.
That, according to many traders, was an exciting moment as it has even led to increase in patronage by foreigners.
But with the rainy season staring at them in the face, many of the traders said the President would be welcomed again when the rains set in so he could see the conditions they work to earn their daily bread.