Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Computer City traders demand govt support

Computer City traders along Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, Olodi-Apapa in Lagos, under the aegis of the Freedom Merchants Association (FMA), have called for government support in the development of the market, reports CHARLES OKOH.

FMA led by Messrs Steve Ezeoku and Gabriel Anyanwutaku, the chairman and vice chairman respectively in an interview with Champion Infotel at the weekend, noted that the call has become vital to enable the development of the market so as to attract relevant economic benefits both to the government and individual traders.

They cited the deplorable state of the road in and around the market as well as lack of borehole amongst other problems of social amenities needed in the market.

On how the market located opposite Julius Berger came to be, Mr. Ezeoku said that FMA moved to its present location following confrontation with the oil tankers at the West Minster axis of Oshodi-Apapa Expressway over seven years ago.

“When we came here in 2001 we’re confronted by the threat of oil tankers at West Minster area of Apapa. We moved here because we no longer found the atmosphere at West Minster conducive, so we came to this place and started sand-filling the area,” he said.

Initially, Mr. Ezeoku pointed out that they experienced a lot of problem, including contending with constant invasion from the police instigated by some other people.

The height of it, he said, was when some people from Panti stormed the market with policemen, and thugs in several vans and raped their women while looting goods worth several millions of Naira.

“We got a court injunction from an Igbosere High Court restraining them,” he said, stressing that however, they began to experience some relief since the state commissioner of Police, Mohammed Abubakar and the area commander in Festac intervened.

Also speaking, the vice chairman, Mr. Anyanwutaku, who is an importer of computers and allied accessories said they want the government to come to their aid as they pay their taxes too.

“We have given an office space to tax officials and so they are with us here,” he said.

On the level of patronage, the vice chairman said that since the spare part dealers from Lawanson came into the neighbourhood in November 2006, the situation at the market has improved.

“People come from all over the country to purchase computers here for resale, because we offer the cheapest prices you can get and we sell products that we can guarantee. As importers we sell to people from other markets at wholesale prices,” he said.

Speaking on plans to create more awareness about the market, Mr. Anyanwutaku said, an expo is being organized for later this year as a way of letting people know that this is an emerging market and we shall in the nearest future place it as the largest computer market around.”

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