Fred Ezeh, Abuja
GSM Village is arguably one of the most popular places in Abuja. There is hardly any resident of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) who does not know the village and it is obvious why it is so. Technology has become the salt of the 21st century world. Smart phones, laptops, tablets and other internet-enabled devices have continued to flood the Nigerian market.
Some of the products shifted from developed countries are perceived to be low in standard, and that could account for its operational faults and poor durability. On daily basis, people search for solution for different faults developed by their devices. Unfortunately, some Nigerians are so emotionally attached to their devices that they could fall sick if they are taken away from them even for few hours.
The GSM Village in Wuse Zone 1 is always bubbling with activities. The market is not for phones alone, but also for laptops, tablets and other electronic devices. It has also justified its status as the melting pot for electronic devices in Abuja.
Shop owners and repairers have displayed high sense of creativity and ingenuity. They deliberately questioned the intellectual capacity of the device manufacturers through the repair work.
Some persons in the market have the capacity to turn around old and abandoned devices. It is also in the market that a customer could buy, sell, swap or repair phones, laptop or other devices irrespective of brand and model.
Residents of Abuja and environs visit the market on daily basis, either on referral or otherwise, to get solution to whatever problem they might have with their devices.
However, it is not all that glitters could be taken as gold in the market. A lot of sharp practices are taking place in the market. For instance, unwise and untutored first time visitors to the market could be forced to fall “mugu” in the hands of errand boys that could package themselves well and pretend to be shop owners. They could easily waylay suspected first time visitors from the entrance gate and claim to be the owner of a shop, only to dupe the customer afterwards.
The market leaders always advised customers to beware of such criminally minded individuals pretending to own shops even when they are errand boys. While the market serves as a place of solution for phone and other device users, there are unconfirmed claims that criminal activities abound in the market. There is even claim that illicit drug transactions are booming in the village.
“We hear stories of people engaging in drug and other criminal activities here. The leadership of our association has continued to warn and punish anybody found wanting. I have never seen anybody here with drug,” a man who identified himself as Emeka told Daily Sun. stressed He continued: “You are in my shop, you see the quantum of business taking place. I import genuine phones, laptops and other devices. I supply to many people, so there cannot be any reason for people like me to indulge in such untoward business. You can only find it around those who have nothing doing. But I think GSM Village is run professionally.”
For Danjuma Kefas, a customer, he has been a victim of sharp practices from a technician in the market. He claimed he narrowly escaped the tricks of some fraudulent people who he said mastered the act of cheating.
Mrs. Jane Etaghene, who works in the village claimed ladies were always the target: “I overheard a lady few weeks ago lamenting that someone she deposited her Samsung Galaxy smartphone with for repair could not account for it. She claimed to have called and visited the market several times and could neither see nor hear from the guy. It is a daily complains in the market which ought not to be so.”
But Mrs. Grace Nyang, a customer argued that there was nothing strange about some complaints about the activities of some elements in the market: “I started patronising GSM Village many years ago when they were still under the bridge near the Central Mosque. I bought all phones and tablets I have used in the market and I have not complained. It is obvious that I have not fallen into wrong hands as being the case with some of my friends.
“Few months ago, my Samsung Tablet packed up. I tried all I could to revive it but I couldn’t. I took it to Samsung experience center in Wuse II, and they pronounced the device dead. They suggested that I go for another new device. I was worried because I could not afford a new tablet.
“A friend later referred me to someone in GSM Village. I was surprised few days after when I got a call that my device has been fixed. It was an indication that some of the guys know what they are doing.”
One of the market leaders who pleaded anonymity boasted that the market has justified its status as the number one location in Abuja for the repair of phones and other devices. He claimed that they have amongst them, set of people that have proven beyond doubt that they are talented in smartphone repair, in spite of new introduction to the market:
“Some of us have had the privilege to receive trainings from Samsung, Techno, Infinix and other phone companies. That helped us greatly in the provision of quality and affordable services to our customers.”
Nnaemeka Akaeze, is another old member of the market. He confessed that the market has grown beyond the expectations of the market leaders and other stakeholders: “It was difficult for us to relocate from where we were hitherto known in Central Area to Wuse Zone 1. But we have established ourselves that customers would come from far and wide to get our services.”
He was, however, worried that the market has become saturated with people with questionable character. He lauded the market managers for considering stronger measures that would discourage criminals from gaining access into the market.