Ibadan, the former capital of the old Western Region is reputed to be the commercial hub of South-west Nigeria and one of the hall marks of the city is trading activities. Bola Ige International Market in Ibadan has over the years grown to become a truly international market, playing host to over one million customers every day. In this special series on market in the South-west, ADEOLA OLADELE and SHARON VINCENT presents a special report on one of Africa’s major markets.
From Ogunpa to New Gbagi
The foundation stone of what used to be New Gbagi Market, now Bola Ige International Market was laid by the former governor of old Oyo State, late Chief Bola Ige sometime in the 1980s, but it was not until 1989, during the tenure of former military governor of the state, late Major General Abdul Kareem Adisa that the traders began moving from the old market at Dugbe along the Ogunpa River to the present location along Ibadan – Ife Express Way, not far from the Ibadan Airport. It was however, late former governor Lam Adesina, who renamed the market Bola Ige International Market.
Alhaji Moroof Azeez is the General Secretary, Bola Ige International Market. He ventured into trading in 1978 and began trading at the market in 1990 after leaving the old market.
Comparing the old with the new, Alhaji Azeez said, ‘’in the past while we were trading at the old Gbagi Market, then there was flow of money, customers here and there, compared to what obtains now where a trader will go home without selling anything,’’ he told WESTERN POST.
But that is not the only challenge in the market.
There are over 10, 000 shops and several thousands of kiosk and stalls and the available car parks are not enough. That is why the traders would want the government to provide more car parks as some unscrupulous persons were said to have built shops on some spaces designated as car parks. ‘’The only solution is to stop building shops on spaces allocated for car park. If government stops that, we will maintain the ones we have, ’’Azeez said.
And in their own little way, the market leaders prohibit traders from displaying their goods on the road just as they also recruited security agents to monitor the car parks
In November, 2014, some traders petitioned the State Government over what they called erection of illegal structures at unauthorised places. Following the petition, the Chairman, Oyo State House of Assembly Committee on Commerce, Hon. Temitope Olatoye promptly paid a visit to the market and reportedly ordered that the illegal structures be demolished.
Comrade Kazeem Suara, popularly known as “Olayode, is the youth leader of Bola Ige International Market and he has been a trader for the past 28 years. He said spaces set aside as car parks in the market have been sold to private developers for to construct new shops and this has reduced the number of car parks available.
Security is Top Priority at the Market
However, in terms of security, Suara rates the market high, saying night guards, Boys Scout and WAI Brigade to keep watch on the shops and monitor car parks to preventing theft of the vehicles of traders and the customers.
He urged the state government to empower the youths and traders of the market with loan facility, adding that they were yet to benefit from the loans disbursed by the administration. ‘’The governor promised us many things, but he has not fulfilled any of them. He promised to give us two buses up till now we are yet to receive the buses,’’ the youth leader said.
Bola Ige International Market Has Developed Tremendously, Says Market Chairman,
Alhaji Akeem Kareem was elected the Chairman, Bola Ige International Market Traders on June 5, 2014. He spoke to WESTERN POST on some issues related to the market.
The Success Story of Bola Ige Market
Well if you have been in this market some years back, you will see lots of shops without anybody operating them. But now, all the shops have been occupied. New shops are being built to add to the existing ones. This makes it easier for traders to have a shop of their own.
In essence, this market has developed tremendously compared to what we have before.
There are series of challenges confronting us in this market. First is the issue of car parks. All our car parks have already been occupied.
Secondly, there is no electricity supply to the market. All the toilet facilities are not functional and they are not up to the required standard.
Another difficulty facing us is the high rent rate. Some traders cannot afford the rent rate being slammed on them. I want to use this opportunity to appeal to Governor AbiolaAjimobi to help us on this issue to make sure that the high rate is reduced to make the shops affordable for the traders.
Car Parks Built by the state government not Adequate
When you look at this market, you will realize it is an international market. So, everyday, it is expanding. The car packs we have at present are not enough. We still need more for the benefit of traders in the market and our customers.
What Traders have done to work in with the government
The entire traders of this market are working hand in hand with the government in order to make the state progress. This market is the best and the largest in Africa. The market is a pride for us and the state.
We have cordial relations with the state government. We have to appreciate efforts of the government by giving the market a facelift.
Everybody knows Ajimobi as a peace maker. His government takes care of the masses.
Security Measures to safeguard the market from men of the underworld.
Thank you very much for the question. In the area of security, we have done a lot. In terms of managing our car parks, we have recruited WAI Brigade to monitor our car parks and the vehicles parked there to make sure that they are not stolen. Similarly, they were also given the task of monitoring the shops. We have a good relationship with the Nigeria Police. Most especially, the present Commissioner of Police. He is a very reliable person. He is giving us total support.
Social Activities in the Market
We usually hold congresses. By January, we will call for another congress of the market. We hold our congress every 3 months.
The aim of the congress is to brief all traders on any development in the market and to feed them back on various steps taken to promote the interest of the traders. It’s also an avenue for them to seek clarification on certain issues in the market.
Crisis Management and Resolution among Traders
Firstly, we believe in justice. When there is crisis, they will come to my office and I will direct all my executives to deliberate on the issue to find a solution to it. But before we deliberate on any issue, we will first conduct a proper investigation as to what led to the crisis, thereafter inviting the parties in question for a peace meeting.