*Traders gradually returning to commence business — Official
By Femi Bolaji
JALINGO—FOR over one year, the Wukari Yam Market has been left desolate. The ever-bubbling market became a shadow of itself on account of the feud which pitched the Tiv against the Jukun in Taraba South spreading to its domain.
Wukari Town, in the Wukari Local Government Area of Taraba State where the Yam Market is situated, was one of the flashpoints of the ethnic feud that lasted over a year.
Lives and properties were lost to the bloody conflict, sending jitters to both buyers and sellers who used to flood the multi-million-naira Yam market that was once the pride of not only Taraba but the entire country.
Though there are several yam markets around this axis, the Wukari Yam Market stands out because it is central and brought together traders from the Southern and Northern parts of the country.
However, with the return of peace and suspension of hostilities among the warring tribes, the once desolate market has started picking up, and economic activities have resumed in earnest.
Arewa Voice investigation reveals that yam merchants have started thronging the market from different parts of the country and farmers who were once scared to bring their produce to the market have returned. Also, those that engage in manual labour like loading vehicles, pushing carts, among others, have resumed their hustle.
Speaking with Arewa Voice, the secretary of the yam market, Shedrack Shishi, said the revenue lost to the conflict runs into millions of Naira during the period the market was deserted.
He, however, said economic activities had started to pick up and urged those who are still afraid of coming into the market to conduct their business to return.
“There is an improvement in the turnout of yam merchants in our market but not as it used to be before the crisis. You know we used to have a lot of patronage from the North to the South because Wukari Yam Market is strategic. With the peace that has returned, we are seeing more people coming into the market to continue their business,” he informed.
Speaking on some of the challenges currently facing the market, Shishi said some merchants, especially those coming from the East, find it difficult to get vehicles to move their purchases to their domain. He listed other challenges to include lack of banking services, scarcity of water, among others.
He said: “Most of the vehicles that come from the East have not resumed; so it is very difficult for yam merchants who come from there to move their purchase. We are, however, appealing to them to return because the market has started booming.
“Also, the absence of banking facilities within the market is another problem because most people coming to buy are scared of moving about with money. If this can be addressed, I believe more people coming from far places would patronise this yam market than others spread across the country.”
Also speaking with Arewa Voice, Taraba state chairman of the National Association of Yam Farmers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria, Jerry Tyolanga, said the bolstering atmosphere of the market which according to him is occasioned by the relative peace that has returned to Wukari and environs excite Yam farmers and marketers.
He explained that even though there are various yam markets spread across Taraba South, the Wukari Yam market is central because of the patronage it enjoys from merchants coming to buy from different parts of the country.
He was also optimistic that in a few months, the market will start operating in full capacity and economic activities would once again peak just like it was before the crisis.
“There is peace and buyers are now coming in, especially merchants from other Northern states and those in the South. The challenge is that some people are still having fear but we are building people’s confidence and with time, the market will be full again,” he said.