Isaac Anumihe, Abuja
In spite of the environmental protection laws against the degradation of the environment in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Kose Open Breakfast Market is growing by leaps and bounds.
Kose Market started as a small table marketplace where one or two persons fried akara (kose) and served pap (akamu) for workers in the area.
Soon, the market blossomed into a large bazaar with more than 50 persons frying akara and serving pap at the same time.
The expansion of the market attracted more workers from far and near who come to take away akara (kose) and pap. While a majority of them are served on a makeshift table and under umbrellas, some take them away to their offices.
Located along Independence Avenue in the belly of the city, the market has been raided several times but the more it is invaded by the operatives of Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), the more it blossoms and spreads towards the bush path.
As a result of the constant raids on the market, it now operates fully from 6am to 9am everyday before the operatives of AEPB resume duty.
Nevertheless, the market operates skeletally in the afternoon with an assortment of solid menus like eba, egusi, ogbono, masara etc.
Abuja Environmental Protection Board Act No 10 of 1997 addresses emerging environmental challenges in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The law requires occupants of buildings in the FCT to keep owned or occupied tenement clean and neat.
They are also required to keep grass low and trim, cut and trim flowers; keep drainage running through the tenement free from blockage.
Apart from providing adequate dustbins and sanitary convenience, residents must not dry cloths in front of the balcony or in front of their premises or on hedges or sidewalks and they must not keep animals or birds likely to cause nuisance; must not use a residential premises for the sale of alcoholic drinks or as a restaurant or for other commercial activities.
Violators of this law are liable to pay a fine from N100 to N5,000 and or imprisonment from one month to six months or both depending on the offence.
But the Kose Open Breakfast Market has broken all these rules because apart from being located on the road, it leaves the environment dirty and unkempt after each market day. Besides, it has a health implication to the residents in the area and it is unsightly to visitors.
Customers to the market include directors from the nearby federal secretariat, workers from National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), workers from Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Bassam Plaza workers and other private organisations operating around the area.
Also, some security personnel who are on night patrol patronise the market, a situation that causes the area to be crowded in the mornings. The market situated near faces Total Building, NNPC Towers and Federal Secretariat.
It has survived several raids by the operatives of Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) and it is still standing and even waxing stronger.
Due to the clandestine and hush-hush operation of the market, kose and akamu are prepared in the open air and customers are served under umbrellas and on makeshift tables and chairs.
While a sizeable plate of akamu is N50, a ball of akara is N10. So, with N100 or less one can eat and be satisfied for the day.
However, some customers prefer to be served inside their cars whereas others are served in take-away plates.
A devotee of the food joint told Daily Sun that the joint has come to stay: “You can see the number of cars that line up here everyday and workers from different parts of the city patronise the market early in the morning.”
Another diehard customer who said that he has been visiting the market since 2017 when he was employed by one of the big companies, vowed that no government can stop them from patronising the market:
“If AEPB likes let it raid the market 20 times a day. This market will not stop to function. Both soldiers and policemen come here to buy food. All these cars you see are owned by the ‘big men’ who send their drivers to buy food for them. Who is fooling who?”
One of the food sellers admitted that they raid them from time to time and sometimes when they ‘settle’ they are left off the hook. She pleaded with the government to leave them to operate until the government was ready to construct the road:
“This market helps us to feed our family. I leave Karmu every day to come here to look for what my family will eat. Please help us to plead with them (authorities) to allow us for some time. We know that it is a temporary place.”