Health experts recently increased their campaign for consumption of more fresh fruits and water in place of the carbonated drinks and other packaged foods. They believe it will boost the health status of Nigerians and ensure longevity.
They attribute growing cases of sudden deaths and strange ailments among many Nigerians, especially in the rural areas, to artificial foods.
With heightened awareness and knowledge of “health is wealth”, Nigerians have begun to appreciate the importance of fresh fruits. They have replaced hitherto canned drinks and unhealthy foods with fresh fruits and clean water with testimonies.
The knowledge of health benefits of fresh fruits resulted in increase in demand for fruits thus making fruit business lucrative in Abuja. Demand for such fruits has put more pressure on some fruit markets in Abuja, especially the one in Mararaba, a border town with the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) popularly called “Orange Market.”
Its nomenclature does not limit it to a particular fruit. It has proven its capacity over the years, to provide different kinds of fruit to its customers across FCT and beyond.
The orange market is the first arrival point for all fruit laden trucks from across Nigeria from where it is distributed to other retailers in Abuja and other neighbouring states.
The market hosts on a daily basis staff and officials of prominent hotels, restaurants, government offices including the State House kitchen. This is where they source their fruits.
Every morning, branded vehicles assemble at the market to make purchases for corporate use, even as individuals also throng the market for their homes.
But misfortune visited the market last year. It was gutted by fire. The inferno reduced the market to ashes. Goods worth billions of naira were lost, leaving the affected traders in pain and mourning.
Officials of Nasarawa State government were among the first callers that visited the market to commiserate with the traders. There was commitment from the officials to quickly complete the permanent site for the market.
Few months after, the new market, located few meters away from the burnt one was completed and commissioned by the state government. Unspeakable joy and renewed hope enveloped the traders when they resumed business at the newly built ultra-modern market.
Unlike the old site where traders were barely under a roof, the new market was built to accommodate different interests. Separate provision was made for tomato, onions, pepper, yam, carrots, potatoes and other dealers, so they could comfortably do their business.
A dealer on water melon, Usman Bella, said he lost great fortune at the old market when fire razed the market last year.
“But God has helped me to move on in life,” he said.
He appreciated the state government for the quick completion of the new market, which he said was better and more accommodating than the old burnt market.
“The new market provides us with more space and comfort than the previous location. We have basic amenities especially access road. Trucks laden with goods can comfortably access the market unlike the previous location that was inaccessible. More opportunities have met us here than the previous place and we are grateful to God and the state government for that.”
Kasimu, who deals in garden egg said the market has become a household name for residents of Abuja and environs, especially the corporate organizations, hotels and restaurants.
“Business transaction in this market on weekly or monthly basis is huge. I deal on garden egg alone and I can attest that the patronage has been on the rise. Same, if not more, can be said of other traders that deal in different fruits that are needed more than mine.
“We have built relationship and trust among our customers to the point that they sometimes place a call with their requests and we deliver to their various locations in Abuja and environs. We have hotels, banks, restaurants, individuals and other retailers as our customers.”
Meanwhile, a top official of the market who pleaded anonymity confirmed that the fire that gutted the previous market was deliberately caused by some individuals who were allegedly hired by the man that owned the land where the old market was sited.
The official also confirmed that open drug sales and abuse are big threat to peace in the market and surrounding households. Also, prostitution, burglary and other crimes are major challenges being faced in the market.
The official added: “If you come here at night, you will be shocked by what you will see. Drugs are freely sold and abused, youths smoke weeds in the open, prostitution among teenagers and young adults are done with reckless abandon and several other unhealthy things. Unfortunately, Police seem helpless or overwhelmed with the situation.”