Investigation: Despite paying huge money in tax, Bauchi largest perishable market operates amidst fusty garbage

Customers patronising Muda Lawal market, Bauchi largest perishable market are likely to face serious health consequences for buying pungent vegetables. Most strategic locations that houses traders selling tomatoes, onions, oranges and other perishable goods are littered with   fetid garbage. Shop owners blame union leaders for ignoring sanitation even as they heavily taxed them in dues.

Sighted covering her nose as she passes a vegetable seller sitting close to a squalid waste near a wooden pavilion that accommodates a tomatoes seller, Maimuna Auwalu could not bear the acrid to fulfil her market needs. She moved on quickly and heads to a nearby tent where Abubakar, a trader sells tomatoes.

Abubkar’s shop is also stationed close to a heap of solid waste, but the waste near his shop was not as fusty as the previous one that got Maimuna cover her nose with a handkerchief to downsize the magnitude of the unpleasant smell she perceived.

Maimuna’s act of covering her nose not to smell the unpleasant odour has become a new normal among both traders and customers at the Bauchi largest vegetables market.

Muda Lawal, the largest market that sells vegetable, fruits and other perishable items in Bauchi state is left to bear the brunt of the evolving putrid and frowsty waste that is increasingly growing into a nightmare of some sort.

Rotten Oranges dumped inside the Market

Established between 1982 to 1984, Muda Lawal Market has an estimated 4,700 to 4,800 shops according to the Chairman, Traders and Artisans Association of the market, Bala Maikaji.‎

Thousands of people troop in numbers every day to buy different kinds of goods, under terrible and disgusting heaps of wastes, squalors and other environmentally nauseating conditions that pose threat to human health.

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We are paying tax, but our union leaders are not speaking for us—traders

Shop owners and other pedestrian traders who exclusively spoke to WikkiTimes said the conditions of the market deteriorated due to neglect by the leadership of the market’s union.

A tomatoes seller who pledges anonymity said “it’s very unfortunate that we have to bear these conditions every day. “We are always not happy, our customers are equally not happy because of this waste (pointing to a heap of decomposing waste near his table). “Our leaders are aware of these conditions, the LGA is also aware since they are collecting tax from us, but we don’t know where the money is going to”, he queried.

Another trader, Mustapha Habu confirmed to WikkiTimes that ‎they have been receiving complaints from customers about the “nasty odour owing to the poor ‎attention given to the market in terms of sanitation and hygiene”, but blamed union leaders “for failure to take drastic measures to sanitize the market.”

Habu added that the poor sanitary condition in the market has on several accounts “turned customs away from buying my oranges because of the dirt around. “What is more annoying is the smell here, many people cannot bear it”, he grudgingly told our correspondents.

Hashimu Ado, another trader who reiterated receiving complaints from customers about the refuse says, “but the responsibility of evacuating the refuse doesn’t rest on us, the traders; our own is to sweep the garbage and take them to waste collection points. “It is left for the market leaders to find a way of disposing it.”

Inside the unfriendly Muda Lawal Market, Bauchi

Ado’s argument was simple: “there is certain amount they (referring to union leaders) do collect as tax from time to time and they use to tell us that they will evacuate the refuse.”

The trader wondered why evacuating the refuse was difficult for the union leaders even after collecting money for the purpose.

Mohammed Auwal sells groundnut oil in the market. He told this medium that, “‎honestly speaking, the smell here do not only affect customers and traders alone, but also passersby. “Some of our customers do complaint bitterly; they even ask sometimes, on whether we are comfortable sitting here to do business. “Actually, we are not comfortable, but this is something that is beyond our control and we have to bear it.”‎

Union Leaders blame BASEPA

The Traders and Artisans Association of the market says the inability of the market to effectively manage the waste could be blamed on the Bauchi state Environmental Protection Agency, BASEPA.

The chairman of the association, Bala Maikaji who pointed accusing fingers on the agency said “BASEPA barred us from taking waste such as the ones from chickens, orange and yam markets to designated waste collection points because of its magnitude and the odour”, which he says constitutes serious harmful effects to the people because of its close proximity to public domain. “They want us to take it outside the town where they use to take all the refuse”, but regretted that the union leaders could not afford the cost associated with the task.

“We requested them (BASEPA) to help us with trucks from their office so that we can use them to evacuate these refuse but they didn’t. “Usually, for us to secure even one truck from them, we must have requested for about five times before they respond”, he revealed. ‎

According to him, “the refuse collection points we used before, have now been developed. “Buildings have been erected there; so, we have no refuse collection points for the market.”

Maikaji said, “we used to take all the wastes somewhere around Bayangari and IBB square, we have been barred from taking waste to those areas and we are left with no option than to keep it within the market pending when we can afford to hire trucks to come and evacuate the garbage.”

The Chairman who noted that several discussions with officials of BASEPA in the past administration did not yield tangible outcome said union leaders were incapacitated to deal with the waste considering its magnitude.

“The larger part of the refused in this market comes from chickens and oranges, and we have to use trucks to remove the waste. “Once there is no trucks to evacuate the refuse, you will definitely find out that it has accumulated, thereby making the place look filthy and unhygienic.‎”

BASEPA declined to comment

Several efforts by our correspondents to get the agency respond to allegations levelled against it by the market leaders and traders proved abortive.

The agency repeatedly asked our correspondents to come back for a reaction, something they declined after several visits.

For instance, When WikkiTimes visited the office of the agency on the 27th 28th and 29th of August 2019 to get its response, a man identified as Dalari asked our reporters why they persisted in getting them talk.

“which balancing are you looking for? Well, you can wait for me to have a very brief meeting with these people. “They are all directors of various departments here.”‎

Dalari has never got back to our correspondents to respond as promised up to the time of filing this report.

Medical Implications 

A medical doctor with Bauchi state Specialist Hospital, D. B Umar who described as worrisome, the conditions of the market and other environmentally unfriendly places in the city says the health implications were enormous.

“If you go through the various streets in Muda Lawal Market, especially where they sell vegetables, and foodstuff, the flies in the area is quite troubling. “In fact, the place is terribly dirty, not habitable, not conducive for human habitation. “In fact is a pity.” Umar said.

The Doctor who said he normally passes through the market to his work place added that people risk getting infected with food poisoning, vomiting, diarrhea and other dangerous diseases associated with food items sold in such conditions.

He called on men of the Bauchi State Environmental and Sanitation Agency ( BASEPA) to live up to their responsibilities by providing the market with refuse collection points, to help keep the market clean.

He said that the BASEPA should ensure that any trader that violate sanitation law should be fined, as according to him, keeping the market clean is also the responsibility of the traders and not the government alone.

“The traders in the market have to ensure frequent cleaning and evacuation of rotten fruits and vegetables, other wastes from the market in order to maintain a healthy environment.”

Also speaking, a public health practitioner, Dr. Wilson said such condition is a bad omen for humans. He said, “you can see where people sell oranges and vegetables littered with all kind of dirts.

“Selling things in such unclean environment is hazardous to human health. “You can see that flies surrounds what they are selling with some of the oranges rotten and they bring them there to sell without even separating the bad from the good ones, posing health hazard to the consumers; this practice shouldn’t continue.” Dr Wilson said.

He advised members of the public to ensure that fruits and vegetables bought from any market is washed very well before consumption, which he says will help guard against food poisoning and other related diseases.


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