Pants or bras, Kotangowa is home of all

Tue Aug 20th, 2013 - Lagos

A section of the Kotangowa market ... on Monday.

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Although  suffering official neglect, Kotangowa Market is still the toast of residents who patronise used materials, writes Samuel Awoyinfa

The Kotangowa Market, situated in the Agbado /Oke Odo Local Council Development Area of Lagos State, may lack the trappings of a modern market. But it is the centre of a thriving trade in second-hand clothes.

The market on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway has a unique quality that attracts buyers and sellers from far and wide. For those who cannot afford the prices offered in boutiques and other stores around the city, Katangowa provides an easy access to  used materials, ranging from shirts, trousers, footwear to boxers,  pants and brassieres.

As a first-time visitor enters the market from the Super Bus Stop, he or  she  is greeted by the sight of several traders putting out their wares for display on wooden tables and other raised platforms. While some have their wares spread on mats and pieces of nylons stretched on the ground, others display them in tents or shops.

When our correspondent got to the market, close to the entrance, a din rose from the section where buyers and sellers haggled over the prices of heaps of fairly used pants, bras, socks, sneakers and T-shirts.

Our correspondent was drawn to the scene and he found that pants for men, women and children were mainly sold in that section. The prices of the items range between N150 and N500.

Not far from the spot, another set of traders were busy selling fairly used brassieres.  As our correspondent pretended to buy one, the seller said, “Come and pay N150 for one.”

One attractive feature of the Kotangowa Market is that the prices of goods sold there are not just affordable to many Lagosians, they are also about the cheapest you can find in Lagos at present.  For example, the price for a pair of female pants, for adults and children, is between N100 and N120.

Also, a pair of socks for children sells for as low as N100 or N120, just as a second-hand shirt is available to buyers at N1,000 and N1,200, depending on their ‘newness.’

For those who want second-hand school bags, shoes, sneakers and even sweaters for their children, the market is the right place to go because they are available in various sizes and colours.

An undergraduate, who gives her name simply as Laide, claims that she gets her regular  supplies of T-shirts and jeans from this market, though she hardly steals a second glance at the different types of pants there.

 “I buy some things here, especially tops (T-shirts) and jeans. As an educated person, you won’t expect me to buy second-hand pants and bras. Again, I know the health implications,” Laide says.

 On the other hand, Mrs. Kudi Akinbo, who visits the market every Monday to buy fairly used clothes, which she resells in her shop at Ibafo, Ogun State, thinks that many less privileged residents of Lagos would not have been able to clothe their families but for the existence of the market .

Oblivious of the harmful effects of wearing second-hand clothes, she notes in Pidgin English, “The market na for the people because no be everyone fit buy N1,000 shirt or N5,000 shoes for their children.”

Akinbo’s ‘collection’ for that day, which comprised second-hand clothes for children, cost between N150 and N200 each, depending on the quality of the items.

A trader in second-hand clothes, named Sherifat, who came from Sagamu, also in neighbouring Ogun State, says she travels to Lagos every Friday to replenish her stock. Apart from the fact that she buys the goods at affordable prices, the market provides her with varieties to choose from.

“I have been patronising this market for over five years. The beautiful thing about it is that the prices of things here are affordable. That is why I travel from Sagamu to buy things here every Friday. “Before I returned to Sagamu, my customers are already waiting for me.”  But where do the traders in this market get their wares?

Our correspondent gathered that the bulk, if not all, of the fairly used clothes, shoes and other wares are often imported from Cotonou, the capital of the Republic of Benin.

 The Lagos State Government has been nursing a plan to rebuild the Kotangowa Market and transform it into a modern facility.  The government is said to have decided to merge the market with the proposed New Computer Village on the same location in the Agbado/Oke Odo area. The village, which currently exists in Ikeja, will be relocated to the area and it will co- exist with the market.

The commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr. Toyin Ayinde, made this known in an interview with our correspondent early this year.

Ayinde said the government’s initial plan was to relocate the Kotangowa Market to Amikanle, also in Agbado/Oke Odo LCDA, and move the traders at the Computer Village to Kotangowa. But after the landlords in Amikanle got wind of the proposed plan, they hurriedly developed their properties to abort the plan.

The state government had no choice other than to rescind its decision.

So far, the market, currently under the supervision and control of Agbado/Oke Odo LCDA, has not fared better in terms of infrastructure. The drains inside the market are daily blocked with refuse and the environment officially has no form of convenience for the traders and their customers.

For any of the trader or buyer pressed by nature, he or she must pay between N20 and N50, to use a private toilet nearby.

One of the traders, who introduced himself as Ifeanyi, says, “My brother, the challenges here are many.  We don’t have toilets here. Whenever we want to relieve ourselves we have to part with N30 to use the toilet, owned by a private operator.”

The rent for shops in the market does not come too cheap. Similarly, those who display their wares on tables and on the ground are made to pay certain levies.

Those who have lock-up shops in the market say they pay between N120,000 and N150,000 annually as rent; while those who use their tables or spread nylons on the floor say they pay N500 three times a week -Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

However, one of these traders in the second category says he had to pay a lump sum of N12,000 before he was given a space where he now displays his second-hand shoes.  He says, “Apart from this, I still dey pay N500 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.”

What is Agbado/Oke Odo LCDA doing about the market?  What about the market leaders collecting the rent and tolls in the market?

Our effort to speak with one of the contractors handling the management of the market was rebuffed, as the officials met in the office located inside the market did not grant our correspondent audience.

“We don’t talk to journalists. Only the local government can talk to you about this market,” one of them said.

At the Agbado/Oke Odo LCDA secretariat, the Special Adviser, Market and Revenue Generation, Mrs. Olayinka Ayodele, says the council cannot embark on any infrastructural development in the market because the state government has already expressed its intention to modernise it.

She explains further that the council has appointed two contractors on a public- private partnership basis to coordinate the activities in Kotangowa, and collect the rent and tolls and remit a certain amount to the account of the council monthly.

She says, “We cannot carry out any development in the market because we don’t know what the state government is planning for it. We have heard that it has a plan to modernise it. So for now, we are still waiting for the state.

“We have appointed two contractors to manage the market on behalf of the council. One side is being controlled by Alhaji Olansile, while the other one is controlled by Odus and Alhaji Idi.”




source: Punch