Samuel Bello and Charity Nwakaudu
Rainy season usually comes with amalgam of joy and sadness. As it gives relief from harsh discomforting weather condition like scourging heat, it also carries in its trail flash flood, which usually results in deaths and/or collapsed buildings.
The rain also activates different bacteria and viruses that are often carried forward by insects like flies, moths or even butterflies.
However, roadside traders at various parts of Abuja are seriously battling the challenges that come with the rainy season. Hawkers, who also have recurring issues with task force officers, now pray for clear weather. From Apo, Lokogoma, Utako, Jabi, Wuse, Garki down to Asokoro, being trapped under the rain has been a harrowing ordeal for both traders and customers. Traders lament everyday of how rain disrupts their daily income.
Martha, (other name withheld), a roadside trader, sells roasted yam and plantain at Garki. She told Daily Sun: “I can’t wait for the rainy season to end. It is affecting my market. As I am talking to you, I have the worst experience today. All the sauce, yam and plantain I bought are still here. I pray every morning to God to hold the rain till late hours of the day. I don’t understand why Abuja people can’t come out with umbrella to buy my food. Any little rain affects my business too much.
“My loss is becoming worrisome. Before the rain started, I usually exhaust my goods but I can’t say the same with what is happening now, because sometimes we had to dispose them back home. Normally, I buy many foodstuffs every two days, because people rush them, but now I just buy few things like palm oil, salt and honey beans.
“The problem I battle the most is my recurrent malaria symptom. Mosquitoes bite my apprentice and I here every day, but we try to fight it by applying repellent on our bodies.”
Asked about other challenges facing the business, she claimed that Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) officers collect nothing less than N500 or more from roadside traders: “They come here severally with different cars and cover their identities as environmental officers. Sometimes they come in groups using taxi drivers.
“I spend about N500 four times in a week, if not more. I come here Monday to Saturday. Some of them that don’t want things in peace would seize my umbrella. I always have to go to AEPB office virtually every week to bail myself out.
“I once paid an officer who came alone and my customers asked why I gave him money. He started chasing the environmental officer to take a picture of him and send to his office. Eventually, he did, but I had to beg the man because I don’t want anything that would affect me at this point.
“Quite alright, I am not sup- posed to be trading by the roadside, but I have too many mouths to feed before I even strive to meet up with AEPB requirements. I don’t blame them for collecting bribe I just don’t like the embarrassing and aggressive approach that comes with it. I will still appreciate my God because I know he will help me and get me out of this mess.”
Suya sellers and fast food operators, popularly called Meshai, are also enveloped in this weather-inflicted predicament as they have to find shade under trees, shops and buildings when it rains.
A Meshai, popularly known as Babangida, during an interaction with our correspondent said: “I have been doing this business for a long time. The period I record deficit the most is usually during the rainy season. I make close to N30,000 on a good day.
“Rain is the major challenge facing our business because even with the help of umbrella, the rain can still drench me and my meat. Since the rain started getting heavy, I was making N10,000 a day if not less.
“It got worse that I wasn’t bringing out all the suya I prepared. I referred my customers to other people when I exhausted mine. I can’t wait for the rain to stop. The weather condition is good, but since it is affecting my business, I have to look forward to it stopping. I am still thinking of another venture that is better than this. I am
saving towards it.”
Miscreants on the prowl
Though rain symbolises abundance of blessings, it is now become a cover for insecurity to the FCT residents. Apart from the continuous rain disrupting economic activities, it also provides opportunities for some miscreants to perpetrate their criminal acts.
Some of the residents who spoke with our correspondent confessed that they have lost lots of things due to constant rains. A resident of Kuje, Joseph Ani, lamented that constant rainfall has become a curse, instead of blessing to him. He said he lost almost N50,000 when he was taking shelter from rain under Bannex Bridge:
“I was going to Lugbe from Bannex when it started raining furiously, so I was forced to take shelter under the bridge. I stayed there with other pedestrians until it stopped raining. I boarded a taxi to where I was going with full assurance that I was with money, but to my greatest surprise, when I got to my bus stop, I discovered that I had no money on me.
“I had never been embarrassed like that before. I didn’t know if I should be crying for the money I lost or the insults the driver and fellow passengers hauled at me. Nobody believed me. They were all insulting me that I did not have any money.”
Another victim, Kelechi Nwabueze, lamented: “It has never been easy to get a taxi from Berger to Kubwa after rain, so one has to struggle to get home in the mist of heavy crowd who have been held down in the junction because of the rain.
“This fateful day, after the rain, I struggled and made my way into a taxi, not knowing that my phone and some money in my bag had been stolen when we were struggling for vehicle. It was when I got home that I discovered that my bag was empty. I called that line severally but nobody picked and after sometime, it was switched off.”
Juliet Garba, resident in Nyan- ya, grieved: “I cannot explain how it happened because it was like a magic. It was raining, so I took shelter with other people at a shop. After the rain, I left. Only for me to discover that my bag was torn with razor blade. Everything was taken.
“That is to say that I went home with an empty bag. I cannot explain how it happened because it is still a mystery to me till today. I have stopped taken shelter in crowded places when it is raining, but if I must do, I stay at alert.”