Metropole Magazine

Today's Weather: Abuja NG: Partly Cloudy, Day 360|Night 260

11 Mar Written by  Kimberly Ward

Lokogoma’s Rubble Village

To the left of the road leading to Efab Estates and Lokogoma is an epic scene of devastation, akin to an area destroyed by a bomb.

A barren, dilapidated landscape filled with rubble and trash is all that remains of a once vibrant community of road side traders and residents, and their ramshackle structures are no more. Gone are the rows of wooden makeshift store fronts positioned side by side, with a dirt-filled gutter barely covered with planks separating the market from the pot-holed filled road.

Young women carrying goods on their heads used to mingle with vegetable traders and recharge card sellers, and rows and rows of young men sat under umbrellas next to their wares or in their tiny shacks that had powdered milk and biscuit packets hanging from the roofs. There used to be rickety tables full of vegetables or bread for sale, and towards the back men sat on hastily constructed benches and chairs.

Hair-dressers, mama-puts, barbers, butchers, gas cylinders of varying heights lined up for sale, a kiosk selling DVDs, a drinks station with cartons of water bottles and soft drinks cans piled on top of each other, and various vendors, visitors and patrons from the surrounding estates went throughout the area, and most of those that traded by day slept there by night, when generators, LCD lamps and lone light bulbs would power the small roadside village until lights out.

The unofficial market grew gradually, as both hired construction labourers and opportunists who couldn’t afford to live in the expanding estates nearby saw a way to not only provide services for themselves and the estates’ dwellers, but also construct places to live in.

But all was demolished one day, presumably to make way for something important, though no one is sure what.

What is left is an eyesore which stretches all along the road, a flatland of rubble with the occasional dirt mound or discarded grey brick poking through. On the far end, towards the dirt road leading to Lokogoma are a cluster of leafless trees with jagged, broken branches pointing to the sky. Dusty black nylon bags and pure water sachets dot the dreary landscape, as well as flattened, faded plastic bottles, half-filled and long forgotten bags of cement, old tyres and bits of wood, but most of it is the loose, beige-red earth that characterises Abuja’s untreated areas.

But undeterred, the inhabitants of this temporary retail village are returning, one by one. Amongst the rubble, one man has set up two low tables, on top of which are four large basins in which he’s arranged tomatoes in a pyramid. Nearby a grinding machine is grinding once more, as two young women wait with their bowls of vegetables for the young man to pour them into the blue funnel and grind them for stew.

Close to the road a few people sit and stand around a bench, two or three large umbrellas shading chairs and wares are nearby, and not too far from them others sit on blocks of bricks. Another man has arranged loaves of bread on a table, and towards the back an old bus has been transformed into a store front where all kinds of goods are arranged inside. Nearby, yellow flames from a small fire lick the bottom of a black pot set upon large stones, as people mill around the ruins, talking, buying, selling.

The market village is only back to 30% of its original capacity, but in a month or two its population will most likely be dense with structures and activity once more.