On daily basis the Zuba auto spare parts market in Niger State but neighbouring the Federal Capital Terrority, Abuja is always choked up with cars, motorists, pedestrians and all manner of people, many in search of affordable spare (Belgium or Tokunbo) parts for their vehicles. The market attracts people from all over northern Nigeria, FCT inclusive. The attendant confusion that this throws up is better left to one’s imaginations.
On this particular day, the junction leading into the mammoth market is jam-packed with cars and people all jostling to enter the commercial beehive. The traffic warden posted to the neck of the confusion appears to have lost his head in the midst of the uproar emanating from muffled curses of frustrated motorists especially that of the commercial ‘araba’ drivers many of whom have lost their cool. Soon a glittering Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC van pulls over and energetic looking officers leapt out of the vehicle. They soon took over from the sweaty, frail looking policeman who gladly shifted position to allow them take over the management of the traffic snarl. Twenty minutes after, the situation though a bit remedied by the deft control of the road safety officials still remained frenetic. Zuba is generally known for hosting one of the most horrific gridlocks in any part of the country. Today is no different.
Zuba has a cherished position in history. Apart from hosting the massive Zuma rock which attracts many tourists year in year out, it is one of the first points of call for the Hausa nobility who were fleeing from the Fulanis in the era of the Holy Jihad apart from being a close neighbour to Suleja. According to historical records, after warriors of the Fulani jihad (holy war) captured Zaria (Zazzau’s capital, 137 miles [220 km] north-northeast) about 1804, Muhamman Makau, Sarkin (king) Zazzau, led many of the Hausa nobility to the Koro town (now Zuba. Abu Ja (Jatau), his brother and successor as Sarkin Zazzau, founded Abuja town in 1828, began construction of its wall a year later, and proclaimed himself the first emir of Abuja. From Zuba they were able to withstand serial attacks from the Jihadists from Zaria and further extended their hold on the present day Abuja. Today it still hosts thousands of Hausas including many others from different parts of the nation.
The Zuba auto spare parts however is noted for being one of the sources of attraction for people who daily troop into the ancient city. A cross section of motorists spoken to attested to the fact that goods sold at the market remain are cheapest and most qualitative any motorist can find in than any part of the country.
They equally attested to the fact that for every auto spare part one gets in other notable spare parts market in the city of Abuja for instance, one can get it at half price at the Zuba market.
Tobi Abiola, a motorist who works with a private firm in the FCT, said he was told to come to Zuba when he needed spare parts for his damaged vehicle which was involved in an accident. “I was initially sceptical when I was told to come here instead of going to the one at Apo village which was nearer to me. But at the end I was pleasantly surprised when I got the parts at very low prices much lower than the estimate I was given at Apo. I think that is the primary reason why people always prefer to come here,” the soft-spoken man told Sunday Trust.
For Taiye, an auto mechanic who has a workshop at the Karmo end of the FCT, he agrees that for people looking for the best deal as far as auto spare parts are concerned, Zuba is the prime destination. He noted inter alia that, “In Zuba you will find spare parts at very cheap price much cheaper than what you will find elsewhere. And you can vouch for the genuineness of the products you get here. That is why most mechanics prefer to come here to buy the spare parts here so that their profit margin after they complete their customers’ car repairs will be good.”
The daily surge of people into the market however and the attendant proliferation of touts at the entrance of the market has led to the usual chaotic scenario that characterises the area daily. Travellers to other parts of the north such as Suleja, Kaduna and Abuja satellite towns such as Dei Dei who have to pass the area also have to contend with the traffic snarl ups. But many agree that if the activities of touts can be curtailed and the traffic officials re-orientated for better traffic flow the chaos could be mitigated a bit.
Chairman of the market’s spare parts dealers when approached for comments on the activities of the union refused to be drawn into any form of conversation. He maintained that he would only speak in the presence of his ‘exco’ members many of whom were unavailable. A walk around the giant market (with partitioning lines carrying humorous appellations such as God’s own, Jangazar, Achi Abro, Emperor, Bonaventure, Aguata, United, Chaplet, Mondilo, etc) however reveals a firm attempt to dissuade activities of touts by signs such as, ‘touts are not allowed here.’ But at the entrance a few touts still accost customers as they approach.
A customer told Sunday Trust that despite this he will still continue to patronise the market because of its advantage of affordable products.
“It is still the best auto market as far as am concerned irrespective of its challenges,” he enthused.