The Calabar Beach Market is still wearing the same old face of abandoned boats, leaking and rusted roofs, worn out housing infrastructure, unkempt and obviously very dirty, bushy environment. Those who do business at and around this market are not particularly happy, even though so much money exchange hands there on a daily basis.
The Calabar Beach Market is about 600 metres away from the popular Watt market. On the arrival of this reporter at the market that runs thrice a week-Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays- traders were seen displaying their goods all over the market environment, despite how bad the infrastructure, hygiene, sanitation, and the unkempt the environment appeared.
The fishermen were seen selling fresh fishes to their customers who are mostly females, while the area remained as busy as ever. Some of the traders said they play their role as responsible citizens by paying their levies to the task force, but regretted that the market’s environment doesn’t reflect what they expect.
One of them who introduced herself as Madam Monica Effiong, I’m a trader here. I come here every market day and I pay my levies, but you can see for yourself nah…the market is very dirty, see even road to the market they cannot do for us. See pot holes everywhere. In fact, they are owing us in this market because we need good roads, we need our market to be neat so that our customers can be happy.”
A wares seller, Mr Uchenna said selling in the Beach Market was a nightmare.”As it is, the government is the only solution because this community don’t care, see how the place looks, and goods here are still very cheap but the market is not growing, yet they generate revenue from this market.
A shop owner, Mr Mfon Nsefik, said that “apart from cleaning the market area, which we are trying our best, even though the market leadership is not helping matters, there is no electricity here to help our businesses. The light here is once in a day and few minutes, but you will pay electricity bills, Business premises, income tax, haulage, and other things, even cars packed around this market space are paid for, but we are not seeing any benefits.”
When contacted, the clan head in charge of the area, His Highness Asuquo Okon and the youth leader whose (name was not disclosed), declined comments on the state of the market. Despite earlier agreeing to tour round the market with our reporter, they later declined and refused taking calls or explaining their efforts towards the growth and development of the prestigious market.
Even the Calabar South LGA chairman, Esther Bassey could not be reached for comments. When contacted, the Cross River State Commissioner for commerce, Rosemary Archibong said the development of the market was an exclusive preserve of the local government areas.
“Markets are under the local government council administrations, so that Beach Market is under Calabar south local government council. The state government does not go into local government markets, so direct these questions to the chairman of Calabar South.”
However, a source around the market area who granted audience but under anonymity explained, that until the state and local government wake up from their slumber, the market will keep dying.
“I have been in this community for years now, the attitude of those in charge of this market is to levy the traders, shop owners, motorcycle riders and swell their pockets; nobody cares about the growth of this market.
“Let me tell you, this is supposed to be one of the most important markets in Cross River State, the truth is; this place has been abandoned by the state government, the local government and the local people are just doing as they like.
“There are those who are eating and benefiting from this market, but we know them, just that when you talk, they will come after you, but I pity them because it is them that will suffer it and their children, and this market will keep wearing this same old and ugly face.
“The thing is, let the state government in collaboration with the local government area set up a committee to look into this market, you will see how this place will change. Let the state take over, because now that there are no jobs.”
It is estimated that the market receives a constant population of about 4,000 people who come through boats from other towns to Calabar to buy and sell.