Despite retaining the status of being the biggest fish market in the capital city, Kado still battles basic challenges of infrastructure and power.
She reels under the burden of the mammoth sized fish. In the end she settles for dragging it across the wooden platform, finally dumping it on the weighing machine just beside the platform used for cutting up the fishes and other products like chicken and meat. The fish in question weighs about 13kg which she says is still small in relation to others that they buy from fish dealers. On the wings of this slight framed market woman, many patrons are eagerly waiting to price the gigantic fish. Some are already pulling out wads of notes in anticipation of being the ones fortunate enough to buy the large catch. But they need not, as such massive fish are common place in Kado market. A walk to other fish stands will reveal other similar large products for sale.
'We sell the fishes in kilograms. And also according to the type of fish in question. For some like the Asa, you can get a kilo of fish for about N900. But the giwa fish is more expensive and difficult to come by. A kilo of giwa fish can go for as high as N1,300. However, you may decide to buy the entire fish if you have storage facilities at home to ice the remaining. If you decide to buy the whole fish we, of course, will reduce the price for you by a little margin. It is always cheaper to buy the whole than the pieces, but generally the price here is cheap,' says Agnes Mbakwe, a fish seller at the Kado fish market.
Undisputedly the market is the biggest fish market in the city of Abuja. It attracts people from different parts of the country, the north in particular. The massive fish products and best bargains one can get from the market is perhaps one of the principal reasons why it has retained that lofty spot for many years now. Also its central location in the city makes it an easily accessible spot for lovers of fish. A visit to the market on any day of the week will reveal an endless stream of humans going in and out of the premises: customers, traders, middlemen and other groups of people, who do one form of business or the other in the market. Although other products are sold at Kado, trade in fish products is the main source of income for many at the market.
Perpetual Nwoke, a customer tells Daily Trust that the quality and price of the fish that can be bought in the market, is the main reason why she buys fish for her household there. 'The quality and the price of the fish for me is the major motivating factor why I buy fish here. This is where I get all my household products, especially fish. The wide variety of fish is also awesome for me,' she enthuses briefly.
Another customer, Elesho Joe-Imana, who is a civil servant, has this to say too: 'when you are talking of a market when you need to buy fish, nobody needs to tell you that Kado is the place to be. You will agree with me that patronising the natural is always better than the artificial. I love the asa and the giwa fish types. You can only get these original types, especially the big types, only in a few places like the Kainji dam. Kado is the only market I know of, where fish traders and their customers get the fishes right from their source. They are very affordable to purchase which is an added advantage.'
But for a unique market like that, basic challenges act as a source of concern for the marketers. Many of them however say that if the central issue of power supply is tackled by the authorities, the market would blossom more than it is doing at present.
Manager of CC Fishing company, one of the prominent fish outfits on the site, says that electricity is the live wire of their business, and where this is lacking it constitutes a problem for fish marketers. 'Every fish trader here prays for a bountiful harvest in terms of profit, and to be honest I have been able to make money since I embarked on this business. Business is good. But if the issue of electricity can be tackled for us, we will be much happier. You know the quality of the fishes is enhanced when they are adequately stored and this is impossible without power supply.'
Tunde Aremu, another fish merchant takes time off his fish cutting activity to answer questions. 'The major challenge here is electricity. We usually rely on generators, and this greatly affects profits. If the power supply is improved, we would not have to rely so much on fuelling generators.'
Innocent Anni, public affairs manager of the market told the reporter on phone that he was on leave promising to respond to enquiries later when a meeting is set up. But an official of the market noted that the market faces more challenges than just electricity urging the authorities to tackle this in the overall interest of the marketers. 'Apart from the challenge of power supply there are others like that of lack of a good road network into the market, of course. Also the infrastructural deficit and lack of adequate space is another source of worry. If you come here in the rainy season you will be appalled by the state of the roads. It is always water logged making accessibility poor. Also an informal market has emerged on the fringes of the market, since the main market cannot contain all the traders. This makes monitoring of their activities difficult. A lot can also be done to improve the facilities on site too. Kado is the most prominent fish market in the FCT, so everything should be done to make it an international standard spot like other such markets around the world,' noted the source.