Business Owners Count Losses As ASUU Strike Lingers
(AllAfrica Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) There is a steady pile up of collateral damage as the battle between the Federal Government and members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities rages on with small scale businesses, located in and around campuses, being the latest casualties.
These fledgling enterprises rely on the steady patronage of students to stay afloat but with the prolonged absence of their usual customers, these businesses have begun to take in water with many on the verge of sinking.
LEADERSHIP caught up with some of the business owners in Gwagwalada, Abuja and theirs, is a collective tale of woe and worry. Their losses have consistently piled up since the strike commenced three months ago and many of them have been forced to find alternative means of making those stubborn split ends meet.
Mallam Audu, who operates a general store near the University of Abuja mini campus gate complained bitterly about the toll the strike action has taken on his business. He said, "wallahi, it has not been easy at all. All the perishable goods in my shop have spoilt, even some of the packaged ones are about to expire. If you enter my shop, you will see about twenty loaves of bread that have gone bad. I have to consume many of them or even dash them out so they won't turn to waste."
Another business owner, Madam Abigail, who sells fried yam and plantain popularly called "cosh and dosh" by the students has her own story of woe to tell. "On a normal day, I start selling by 6:30pm and sometimes I don't close till 11:30pm because of the number of customers that I see but since this strike commenced, I don't sell anything again. Sometimes I even have to 'tie' N200 naira yam and sell for N100 so that it will not waste," she said.
The business area outside of the school gate that is usually a beehive of activities, with hawkers of a variety of goods, recharge card sellers, cyber cafes, restaurants, all functioning in synergy, has become a desolate ghost town. Even the beggars who usually dot the streets, seeking alms are conspicuously missing.
Speaking to one of the few remaining water vendors (mairuwa), LEADERSHIP discovered that the lack of business has forced a majority of them to return to their villages to engage in other subsistence activities pending a time when the strike is called off.
Some of the indigenes also said they missed the usual bustle and bubble that accompanies the presence of students in the area. A recharge card seller simply called Uncle Femi said, "me I'm not happy because I don't see all those fine fine girls that walk around in their short skirts. Those are the kind of things that make a man happy but since the strike started, I haven't seen them again."
A barber, Mr. Sam, who has had to take to operating a commercial motorcycle to survive had this to say: "I'm tired of this strike. This okada business that I'm doing, I don't like it, my wife doesn't like it but I don't have a choice. Man must survive."
The sorry situation these business owners in Gwagwalada find themselves is surely duplicated all around the country where we have university campuses. This drawn out saga has affected these businessmen and women as much as the students, perhaps even more because their means of livelihood, of survival is affected. This is sad because recent events point towards an even longer crisis period with other academic bodies joining the strike or threatening to join ASUU in the action which started as far back as July 4.
A series of protests by different bodies in different states directed towards different parties have been carried out and these business owners have also lent their voices to those of the students to appeal to the warring parties to reach a speedy resolution and bring about an end to the strike which will bring back their beloved customers and usher in a fresh lease on life
Copyright Leadership. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).
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