Many variables converge to constitute the economy. From time immemorial, economic activities have been an inseparable means of survival by man. From the traditional trade by barter system to the present-day monetary or cash form of exchanging goods and services, people have continued to evolve dynamic means of achieving their basic and advanced economic needs. What has however refused to fade away in the anal of his of man’s economic exchanges is the marketplace.
As the marketplace continues to be central in fostering economic activities in Nigeria, governments have recognized the need to enact policies to ensure its adequate control and maintenance. In fact, going by the Nigerian Constitution, 1999 (as amended), the power to create, regulate, manage, control and maintain marketplaces is vested in the Local Government authorities.
Recently, Hon. Gbadebo Adekunle, the Secretary to Iwo Local Government Area of Osun State, made it known in a 3-statement Facebook post that trading and parking of vehicles by the road at Odo-Ori Market constitute a serious hindrance to the free flow of traffic. For this reason, the Caretaker Management Committee will penalize anybody found in this act, henceforth.
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Every reasonable person residing or trading at that market must find it worthwhile to extol the government for this realization and its readiness to eliminate the growing reckless culture of mounting blockades on the road in the name of business transactions that is pervasive at the market. That this declaration is on point is not debatable; it rather expediently opens an interesting discourse requiring a wide range of contributions.
Odo-Ori Market is a periodic economic centre created during the reign of Oba Samuel Abimbola. It started as a mini-market on a virgin land to reduce the stress people from Iwoland were passing through in transporting their agricultural and other products to Ibadan and other cities, particularly on porthole-laden roads, and domesticate such economic wealth being transported to other cities at the expense of Iwo and its environs.
Over time, the market has expanded through a combination of native wisdom and ingenuity of community leaders, governments, market traders and users. Although reliable data may not be readily available to quantify the socio-economic wealth Iwoland has realized and continue to draw from this market, it has surely created informal employments, increased community wealth, provided livelihoods for many families, engaged hundreds of people within and outside the host community and promoted Iwo’s visibility.
As someone who has lived most part of his life in Iwo, I feel concerned about the uncontrolled impulses of some traders and vehicles owners at abusing the Odo-Ori/Araromi Road, which begins from the market area. I equally feel I am in a vantage position to contribute to this discourse on eliminating the careless culture of market traders and vehicles owners displaying their wares and parking by the roadside, reducing it to a tiny and narrow passage whereby motorists, motorcyclists and other road users have to vigorously compete against one another to ply the said only major road serving and linking the market with the Araromi area.
This is as even aside from the almost total constriction of service roads inside the market by traders. Some traders have installed temporary or permanent kiosks, shops on the major road and the internal service roads, thereby blocking drainage facilities and causing avoidable accidents.
Due to this situation, hospital ambulances or persons in emergency situations may have been wantonly trapped in attendant traffic logjam on this. On many occasions, trucks and pick-up vans loaded with goods have spent days by the roadside while waiting to offload their contents.
All these have made the use of the market more problematic and challenging, especially on market days. Some businesspeople in the market have developed some impunity that they now feel unchallengeable.
Truly, the market continues to attract large patronage on a largely insufficient landscape. As such, it is now both a daily and periodic market. Most of the market areas that were supposed to serve the purpose of expansion have been sold and built upon by people. Perhaps, the authorities of the Iwo Local Government have napped on this matter for far too long to nip the situation in the bud.
For the government to decisively arrest Odo-Ori Market’s traffic impasse, the government must realize that the market requires urgent expansion. This is very central for any government decision or policy to be effective. Without providing an alternative area to accommodate the swelling population of the market, any government’s action to decongest the market will be considered inhuman, wicked and lacking a human face.
As a concerned citizen, I wish to advise that the government convenes stakeholders meeting with market leaders and their rank and file to fashion out a workable policy that will be inclusive and sustainable. Owing to the construction of residential houses on the land that could have served the purpose of extension for the market, the government may find it extremely arduous to enlarge the trading area of the market.
For this reason, the following places: Agbowo-Obamoro-Ifeodan Road, Ori-Eeru area, Ikire-Ile Junction/Forest Hotel area or any other suitable and preferable option within a close distance to Odo-Ori Market, could be considered as a complementary location.
If any complementary location is chosen, the government and market leaders should ensure that trading activities take place simultaneously with the Odo-Ori Market. Alongside this, effective planning must go into any decision the government is about to enforce so that the policy will not create more problems than it intends to solve.
Expectedly, the government has some forces to contend within the market to make its policy work out, in addition to small traders and market users’ unwilling attitude to comply with any policy that will unbalance the status quo. It is high time the government mustered the commendable political will to arrest Odo-Ori Market congestion.
It is my wish that Almighty God will guide the Iwo Local Government authorities and increase your wisdom to find workable solutions to tame this growing lawlessness that has become normal at the market.
To this end, immediately after the government made this announcement, many residents of Iwo have become aware and we wait anxiously to see the government’s decision manifesting considerable reliefs in this regard.
When any government makes any promise like this, most Nigerians are usually skeptical on whether its execution will travel beyond the lips of the makers. Therefore, for the local government authorities to its competence, it must combine action with its words in order to earn public confidence.
Sodeeq Adisa Atanda
Writes in from Zaria, Kaduna State