Thursday, September 10, 2020

Anxiety In Kaduna As Old Panteka Market Awaits Demolition

Persistent rumour of the planned demolition of the Old Panteka Market on Enugu Street in the neighbourhood of the Kaduna State Polytechnic (Kadpoly), Kaduna, by the Governor Nasir Ahmed el-Rufai administration has sent fear into the traders in the market and all those who in one way or the other earn their livelihoods from the market.
The rumour has unsettled the artisans and traders there. Their fear is aggravated by the demolition of the popular Kasuwar Barci; a couple of kilometres away.
The market, said to have been established about over years ago, is said to have derived its name from a lady called Panteka, who made and sold aluminum pots at ‘Yantinka; now a section of the market.
With other artisans and traders meeting Lady Panteka at her location and their growing number over the years; even after her death, the location grew to become one of the famous building materials and carpentry products markets in Nigeria.
As one of the “Taiwans” of Nigeria; with regards to designing and fabrication of interior decor and a wide range of other office and household materials, the Old Panteka Market has about 40 sections; each housing thousands of artisans of a particular product.
The market has been a practical training ground for students of Kadpoly and other institutions in Kaduna and some northern states.
With the fear over the demolition, the Rector of Kadpoly, Prof. Idris Bugaje, has appealed to the state government to rescind its reported decision to demolish the market, and instead, declare it a heritage site because of its historical background as the oldest 
fabrication skills hub in Northern Nigeria.
Prof. Bugaje said, “Let me use this opportunity to appeal to Gov. Nasir el-Rufai to declare Old Panteka Market a state heritage site,” and advised that, “Don’t demolish it; make it a heritage site, at least for the state.”
The rector suggested that, “If you want to have another site, the Old Panteka Market should be maintained. It will be good if the old market is improved upon, upgraded and turned into a heritage site just like what can be found in Newcastle in the UK and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.”
He observed that the demolition of the market would plunge artisans, traders and so many other people transacting business with the market and the polytechnic into difficulties.
Alhassan Ali, a timber trader at the market, said, “Demolition of Old Panteka Market will portend disaster for us, especially I, who has known no other place to source for my livelihood than the market.
“Having been trading in this market for over 45 years, I have known no other trade than this and I am too old to move and start afresh somewhere even if we are told to relocate.
Rabiu Ali (55), a doors and windows trader who has been in the market for over 20 years, said, “I may not be wrong if I say about a million people feed from this market daily considering the fact that each of the about 40 trades has thousands of artisans, apprentices, traders and labourers feeding from it.”
Ali said, “Hundreds of technical and other related courses students from Kadpoly and Kaduna State University (KASU); and even secondary schools in this state, acquire their practical training here,” and queried that, “What will be their plight if the market is demolished? They will have a bleak or no future.”
He, therefore, advised that, “Old Panteka Market, instead of being demolished, should by now have branches across Kaduna Metropolis, and even other places across the country. These branches can be regularly consulting us here on their trades.”
He observed that even if the traders and artisans were relocated, they might be plunged into untold hardship while struggling to pick up and start afresh, saying that it might even be the end of business for a large percentage of them.
Aminu Yakubu (35), a welder at the market, said, “Because a large percentage of the artisans, apprentices, traders and labourers may have nowhere to go and nothing to do if the market is demolished, they may plunge into crime and drugs.”
Mallam Zakariya Umar (63), a carpenter, said, “Old Panteka is more than a vocational skills training ground; it is a manufacturing industry. The market has reduced the burden of unemployment for the Nigerian society. We have a very large population of degree and diploma holders employed as artisans under the various trades across the market.
“We don’t just practically train technical courses students of the polytechnic for weeks and months, we even do final year projects for some of them. I have graduated a degree holder and I am training two diploma holders.”
He, therefore, said, “Demolishing the market and possibly relocating the traders and artisans will throw many of us into difficulties, because we may not be able to pick up again. In fact, some of us may have to seek other trades elsewhere, while others may be impoverished forever.”
He further said, “With hundreds of thousands of youths within the age range of 13 to 40 feeding here daily, crime and drugs in the metropolis have been reduced. Therefore, demolishing the market will throw about a million people into penury, crime and drugs.
Abdullahi Ahmed, a trader on Enugu Street, said, “The business of eateries thrives here. A large population of hawkers of eatables flood the market daily from many wards of the metropolis like Rigasa and Tudunwada.
Ahmed said, “I believe even if it is demolished the traders and artisans may be relocated; but the point is that it will cause so many problems to so many people in the neighbouhood initially, and forever for many.
“I can confidently tell you that majority of us, the market’s neighbours, who have relied on the market, will be thrown out of business if it is demolished and relocated.”

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