Port Harcourt’s Mile 1 Flyover Market – ‘The Unsung Gainful’
Anyone who lives in Port Harcourt or has been to the oil rich city must have somehow heard or been to its ‘Umbrella Market’ or ‘Mile 1 Flyover Market’, one of the city’s most popular markets.
‘Mile 1 Flyover Market’ as it is popularly called, is a market located in Diobu, a densely populated neighbourhood in Port Harcourt metropolis, Rivers State.
The market which is a running over of the popular ‘Mile one'(Rumuwoji) market may be as old as Rivers State, as it has been there for as long as we can remember.
The Mile 1 Flyover/Park market which is on both sides of the PH-Enugu railway culled its name from the mile one flyover which was built by the then military regime of Colonel Dauda Musa Kimo, its erstwhile name was ‘Railway Line Market’ .
The open air market is predominantly run by traders of Igbo decent, a handful of Rivers State indigenes from, Ogoni, Ikwerre, Abua, Etche and others from the neighbouring Akwa Ibom State.
The popular market is also known as ‘Umbrella Market’, attributable to the fact that the traders who mostly deal on second hand wears (Okrika) use Umbrellas as shades for their makeshift or improvised shops.
The market has successfully held off demolition and relocation attempts from the Rivers State Government, starting from the administration of one time Governor Peter Odili, down to Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.
The decision to obliterate the market was reached following the incessant crime that takes place under the flyover, especially at night when the traders have retired for the day.
However, every time these traders are banned from doing their businesses under the flyover, they always have a way of lurking around, something they refer to as ‘Uwa Mgbede or Ripu Ripu’, a period when the traders come back with their goods and runaway on sighting government officials . When many months have past and they notice that the eyes of the government is off the place, they commence trading under the flyover fully .
All in All, this ‘ Mile 1 Flyover Market’ has been an unfettering advantage to both the sellers and buyers alike, the reason this article is titled the ‘ The Unsung Gainful‘.
‘Mile 1 Flyover Market’ is an ‘Unsung Gainful’ because it is not given the credit it deserves.
A lot of people think very poorly of these traders, some think they are undeserving of the clemency they enjoy from the government, some think they are paupers with no future, some other people think the market is of no good, but here’s the good news!
Despite being an unauthorised market, it has shielded a number of families from being indigent, it has saved many from roaming the streets and has conserved quite a number of Nigerian graduates from succumbing to social vices .
Many of these traders would have been living without a penny to their name, or barely existed from feeding from hand to mouth or probably joined the growing number of mischief makers in our society but glory! some of these people are actual millionaires!
Yes! they have kids who are in school, they own houses, shops, cars, some are importers, they travel to China, Togo, Cotonou, Aba, Lagos etc.
Some young men you see shouting at the top of their voices to attract buyers have been able to save enough money to move to another country in search of greener pastures, some are sponsoring their siblings or relatives in school, some are saddled with loads of responsibilities that selling second hand wears in that market is helping them shoulder.
From Monday to Sunday they are out in the sun and in the rain hustling to make a decent living, on Wednesdays a lot of them leave their homes as early as 4 a.m to go and be on their grind in Oil Mill Market, an equally popular PH market that bubbles on Wednesdays. Some go to Choba market, Rumuokoro market etc.
In the same vein, people who patronise these traders always get to buy the items they need at a very good price. An item that is originally sold for N5000 can be sold for N500 in that market, as they are fairly used UK, US, Korean wears, hence the cheap price.
Some also buy and resell to people who can’t find time to visit the market or people who feel too ashamed or too security conscious.
In spite of all of these gains and more, and the fact that the significance of this market cannot be overemphasised, it remains ‘The Unsung Gainful’.
To be continued…