(By Dolapo Aina)
“The difference between Ojuelegba and Apapa spare parts markets is that while the former deals in mainly Ford motor spare parts, the latter deals in mainly Mercedes Benz motor spare parts. Succinctly put; Ladipo Market is a fairly used motor spare parts market. Therefore, with the non-guarantee of products’ durability; buyers can return products/parts bought and the products/parts would be replaced“.
LAGOS is a cosmopolitan city with a huge number of vehicular movements. People have private cars and or board commercial vehicles from one location to another. Lagosians must have passed through the Oshodi/Cele/Apapa stretch of the expressway. But how many residents of Lagos bother to visit the spare parts haven called Ladipo Market; which I would christen The Grease Land.
On a very bright Thursday morning; on June 26, 2014; this writer had to make a trip to this beehive of metal merchants’ activities. A few metres from the entrance of the market; this writer was bombarded with the loud humming of generating sets from industries beside the Ladipo Market. As I got close to the market, I observed the “mobile” salespersons discussing in groups in front of the gate. The grease-soiled ground reminded me that this market isn’t meant for suits and knotted ties. Since, it was a Thursday, (an environmental cleaning day for traders in Lagos), traders began trooping in, to work at about past 10 a.m. I joined the “Ladipo Market Workforce” in the wrong attire (a suit and a tie). Be that as it may, I couldn’t but mutter “welcome to Ladipo-The land of the Metals.”
Welcome to Ladipo Market; where rather than enquire from shop owners about business in this market; I felt secure to ask for directives and I was led to the office of the Ladipo Market traders’ union/association. After discussing with some officials; I was led to the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of this association; who was the appropriate official to liaise and interact with on this fact-finding mission cum report. I met the PRO by the name, Mr. Nnamdi Nkemelu, an indigene of Anambra State, doing “gastronomical justice” to a mountainous plate of Eba and Okro soup. He was relishing his breakfast (a heavy breakfast, I dare say), when I disrupted his “early morning assignment”.
Welcome to Ladipo Market; where according to Nkemelu, business is booming and usually on a daily basis. I noticed that there are a plethora of vehicles’ components that we are ignorant of; until you take a trip to this market.
Welcome to Ladipo Market; where the sale of second-hand (used) motor spare-parts are the order of the day, where the shop owners/sellers deal in mainly Japanese motor spare-parts, while a minute number of sellers deal in Volkswagen spare parts. The difference between Ojuelegba and Apapa spare parts markets is that while the former deals in mainly Ford motor spare parts, the latter deals in mainly Mercedes Benz motor spare parts. Succinctly put; Ladipo Market is a fairly used motor spare parts market. Therefore, with the non-guarantee of products’ durability; buyers can return products/parts bought and the products/parts would be replaced.
Welcome to Ladipo Market, where people from all ethnic groups in Nigeria have shops and you can’t but notice the dominance of the Easterners. Nkemelu, who has been in this market since 1994, informed me that Easterners are known for trading and they have stuck to what they are good at. He informed this writer that he has been a shop owner since 1994 and there are some traders who have been here since 1990, 1991 and 1992. The annual rainy season which has become an “irritant” in the form of floods in Lagos; isn’t an issue in this market since the construction of the bridge nearby, some years ago.
Welcome to Ladipo Market, where the PRO informed me that cleanliness is of paramount importance. Last year, after a one week-long closure of the market it would appear that there is a concerted effort to make the market clean and tidy. For, I noticed that the refuse dump site was clean with refuse bags well arranged. According to Nkemelu, the congestion in human movement within the market and vehicular movement outside the market can be greatly minimised by the completion of an abandoned road nearby. This would enhance easy human and vehicular movement.
Welcome to Ladipo Market, where time is money; for as we spoke, the PRO was attending to a customer simultaneously. I had to ask him if he had fed his family from his line of business and his response was affirmative. Apparently, this business might look greasy and dirty but there are huge profits being churned in by the dealers of truck and bus springs; disc and plate clutches to car engines; shock absorbers to name a few. And not forgetting wheelbarrows for hire (for heavy spare parts).
As I thanked the PRO for his time and as I walked in between shops; I noticed the blue colour. Apparently, almost all the shop owners in this market wear a pair of blue jeans as the “unofficial” trousers. Virtually, every pair of jeans in this market is grease-stained. I asked a shop owner why this is so and he laughed saying, “he hadn’t realised it but that it is the best option available since they come in contact with grease etc.”
As I walked out of the market, traders and mechanics were trooping in and I had to conclude that “this business might be grease-staining but apparently, huge profits are being made here.” Welcome to Ladipo Market; the land of the motor spare-parts merchants.
• Aina lives in Lagos.
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