Jankara Market, the poor man’s succour
Jankara Market conjures different imageries for Lagos residents: a scrap auto spare parts market or a market for the downtrodden, the likes of those described in Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of The Earth. For others, it is the commercial nerve-centre for all sorts of inferior and thoroughly abused auto spare parts. AKIN ADEWAKUN reports.
Though it gives an unflattering appearance and despite the not- too- complimentary perceptions, 39 year-old Jankara, the auto spare parts market, located in Ijaye, in Ojokoro Local Council Development Area of Lagos, this age-long market hold its attraction to many Lagosians; the die-hard and loyal patrons, whose first port of call whenever the exigencies of fixing an auto issue arise, is usually the Jankara market.
For them, Jankara Auto Spare Market is not just a centre for mercantilism but a refuge, where cheap and affordable autos and their accessories can be accessed. Without it, the life would not have been the same.
“Let me tell you a lot of vehicles you see today would have been off the road but for this market, whose trade mark has always been cost accessibility,” Jimoh, a mechanic and loyal patron of the market told Nigerian Tribune. The father of two, who claimed to have been patronizing the market for over a decade believes the strength of the market is derived from the fact that ‘it has something for everybody’, depending on the purse of the client.
“You see different grades of auto spare parts there; the imported ones, the ones used in Nigeria and even vehicles too are put on sale in this market. Your purse in this instance determines what you buy, unlike some other markets where they claim their wares are imported and you get disappointed at the end of the day when this commodity did not ‘deliver’ on the seller’s promise,” he stated.
“I check this place before any other auto spare part market, whenever I’m looking for any auto part, not because of its proximity but because of the variety of products it offers and the accessibility of their costs,” he explained.
Perhaps Jimoh’s curiosity in the market’s new status of having every grade of auto-spare parts on its shelves is hinged on the fact that the market was at the initial stage known for merchandising only Nigerian used spare parts, sales of imported vehicles and their spare parts are therefore inventions, of ‘the latter day’. Interestingly, not a few have attributed the increasing popularity and appeal the market derives from every segment of the populace to this very crucial factor.
Alhaji Adesina Owolabi, the President of the Jankara Orisumbare Motor Spare Parts Dealers Association, said the market had gone beyond serving the immediate environment. “People come from as far as Port Harcourt and the neighboring Republic of Benin to patronise us here. This is because it is a market that has re-invented itself. It has gone beyond selling used Nigerian cars and accessories to imported vehicles, because we want to remain relevant as far as auto spare parts merchandising is concerned,” he explained.
Established 39 years ago, following the orders of the then state governor, Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande to traders in the old Jankara Market on the Island to relocate their auto spare parts section from the place, Jankara Orisumbare had grown, in the past few decades to attract both local and international patronage. Another secret behind this success remains the determination of the leadership of the market to exterminate some of those issues that might discourage the prospective clients from visiting the market; chief among them is that of poor customer service.
Hitherto, customer service had been a major issue among members of the association, a development that had scared and discouraged clients and prospective ones from patronizing the market. Lekan, a mechanic that plies his trade in Iyana Ipaja area of the metropolis would prefer to patronise the Ladipo Market, a distance that is farther to his workshop than Jankara.
His complaints; getting warranty from traders in the market could be likened to squeezing water out of the stone. But Alhaji Owolabi believes that has become history today. Traders voluntarily give warranty and are ready to always abide by those terms spelt out in the agreement.
“We always enlighten our members in this market on the need to treat their customers’ right, because of that old marketing parlance that the customer is always right. We encourage them to treat them like a king that we think they are,” he stated.
One of the ways of giving them such royal treatment is by signing an agreement with them on every deal, by issuing out warranties. “We believe by giving a warranty, such customers are rest assured that we are not out to play a fast one on them. It makes them trust the products they are buying. It is a confidence-building strategy which has worked for us over the years. Members have been doing it and it has been working for us well. This is because it was never so in the past,” he stated.
Another of such measures that has gone a long way in enhancing the equity of the market is its conflict-resolution mechanism and how the leadership of the market had, in the past few years, dealt with the issue of stolen goods that found their ways into the market.
There had been occasions such had cropped up among members and dealt with frontally.
“The issue of stolen goods is getting every serious attention it deserves here. The leadership of the market does not treat such issues with kid gloves because nothing messes up a market than when people are suspicious the wares they are buying could be stolen,” argued Alhaji Owolabi.
According to him, besides the location of a police station very close to the market, where such issues could be resolved, periodic enlightenment campaigns are arranged by the market leadership, in collaboration with the Nigerian Police. Such campaigns, he explained, are aimed at educating members on how to identify stolen goods and where to go when such goods are identified.
“They are campaigns meant to stress the fact that members should not cut corners, since there are always repercussions for such actions at the end of the day. Handling the issue of stolen goods has always remained a challenge to us in this market. We’ve actually had one or two instances, in the past few months where such actually cropped up. But with the help of the market’s task force and men of the Nigerian Police, we were able to resolve them by bringing the culprits (the sellers) to book. You know some of these people pretend when they come here that they are the owners of the properties (vehicles), they want to sell.
“But we always ask our members to demand for the original papers of such vehicles, and once such papers are presented, they can go ahead and negotiate. We drum it into their ears that they should not, because the commodities are cheap, circumvent this laid-down procedure. And members have been adhering to this rule.
But in spite of these measures, the Jankara market boss is not oblivious that sometimes such issues could be complicated. “We’ve seen one or two instances, where two genuine papers were presented on the same vehicle. The person that came to sell the vehicle gave us a genuine paper, only for another person to appear few days later and lodged a complaint that the vehicle was stolen. He also presented another set of original papers that looked original. Though it was eventually resolved it, no doubt, had a negative impact on those involved,” he stated.
But in spite of these challenges, Alhaji Owolabi still believes the market is still resolute in its commitment to serving the economically-disadvantaged in the society, in sync with the dreams of their predecessors.
And, fortunately, those predecessors are not far from the present leadership of the market to give them guidance. “They are always part and parcel of our electoral process, each time the market is set to elect new leadership. It is their way of ensuring that the leadership of the market derails,” the Jankara Market leader explained.
And as the market continues to expand its frontiers and still tries to remain focused to the ‘cause’, Alhaji Owolabi has called on members to be ready to form partnerships to enable them achieve this all important goal. In as much as we want to serve everybody, this recession could be a hindrance; since most individual members no longer possess the capacity to do it alone.
“Our members are going into partnerships now. This is what we preach on daily basis now. We believe we need this if we really want to remain relevant to every stratum of the socio-economic ladder,” he stated.
A rather re-assuring one for some car owners whose ability to continue to enjoy their car ownership status may be cut short by the increasing high cost of auto spare parts. A succor the market has promised this class of people it will continue to provide.