By Paul Ndiho, Abuja, Nigeria
Since the deadly late June blasts at a popular shopping plaza, in the heart of Nigeria’s capital, there has been increased tension in Abuja. The government has beefed up security at nearly all major public places and markets.
In recent months, markets and shopping malls in Nigeria have become easy targets by Boko Haram – the Islamic militant group that has killed hundreds of innocent civilians. In light of the June bombing — Abuja markets management limited – the body that runs all public markets in the city, is upgrading its security systems– including a heavy security presence at all public markets. Both shoppers and vendors are concerned about their safety.
A good number of them have decided to shun public gathering and markets all together and they say that the business is very slow. Peter Uchakaf, is Garki market vendor
“Due to what is happening in the country now, Boko Haram, they are not allowing us to sell now. People are afraid. People don’t come to our market anymore.
Osuma Okike another Garki market vendor shares the same view.
“This time around, this is very low because of the circumstances of Boko Haram. So now, if you look into the market, it is so dry. We are having a big problem.
Princess Kofo James, owner of several Garki market shops, says customers need to be aware of their surroundings.
“We need to secure ourselves. When you look at my environment now, I have installed CCTV camera’s to scan people who enter into my shop, and I’m viewing my shops, viewing my environment. So if i see anything strange, i can easily raise it to the authorities. So if there is one thing i can contribute to my environment is to secure them.”
“I’m here in Garki market where security has been heightened because of the security concerns and threats from Boko Haram. The management of this market is not taking any chances — so they have decided to put tighten security at all the entrances of the market.”
Abuja markets management says they are doing everything they can to make sure that shoppers are safe, everyone is subjected to a pat – down security check.
Plus, they’ve installed state-of-the-art closed circuit television CCTV cameras, bomb detecting equipment– and they scan every car entering the market.
Voice of America was given exclusive access to go behind-the-scenes to see how the automated system works. Ismail Aluma is head of automation for Garki Model Market.
“The first thing we want to achieve here is to make sure we have a safe and conducive market environment where shoppers will be happy and be free and be secure while doing their shopping.
“We have security features like when you are picking the card; we have a snapshot of you. And we have it set up at the both of the entrances and the exit, so we know what time you go in and we know what time you go out. The ticket says it all. Once we scan the tickets, it gives you the details of the car and the person driving it and everything.”
Everyone entering the mall is thoroughly searched at the gate and compelled to pass through the entrance gate while entering the market, and follow the exit gate while leaving the market.
No one escapes the security check– and i was no exception.
Ibrahim Yahaya – Joe, the market manager says that any given time security guards are conducting stop-and-search routines with their metal detector scanners on motorists before allowing them to drive into the market.
“We work around the clock to ensure a safe and secure market environment that will be user-friendly, that will be customer friendly, and, in the light what we are seeing in security, to make people as they come in to be secured. What you see is like our second nature. We make it within….it ourselves and we should check, scan every car coming in.
Business analysts say that besides the security upgrades on the market, the automated system helps to generate near 100 percent revenue for the market.