An existential threat is facing petty traders and transporters as cash crunch bites harder in Nigeria.
This is as most consumers now prefer to patronise malls, established transport companies and other corporate businesses than going to the open market squares, where petty traders and individual transporters only ask for cash payment.
A journalist, Mr Tony Okafor, who was trying to avoid paying cash for condiments for the preparation of a pot of soup for his family, said he had to resort to buying the ingredient for soup in a mall.
“I didn’t know how I could go to the market to tell a woman selling pepper or fish that I want to make transfers to them, so I resorted to buying everything at Roban Stores.
“That was how I bought an ice fish that was reddish. I didn’t know such a specie of fish existed, but I had to make do with it, even though it was not my choice.
“Of course, I had to pay higher to prepare just one pot of soup, but it was better than not having food at all,” he lamented.
Okafor is not the only Nigerian involved in this. Many Nigerians have jettisoned open market square transactions because of the involvement of cash. Another journalist, Ikenna Ezenekwe shared a similar experience. The journalist, who is an Abuja resident, said he bought condiments for making soup in a mall, including stockfish, dried fish, which Igbo people refer to as ‘okporoko’.
Also, many independent transporters are losing customers everyday because they do not have means of collecting fares from customers, except asking for cash.
Such customers now resort to visiting established transport companies, who use POS (Point of Sale) machines, or even online booking. Such companies, even though they charge higher, debit their customer’s bank accounts through their ATM (Automated Teller Machines) cards.
During an investigation by DAILY POST, which took our correspondent to markets and parks around Awka, the Anambra State capital, it was discovered that many rural women traders who hitherto had nothing to do with owning bank accounts and transacting businesses online, have devised new means.
At Eke Awka market, the most popular in the state capital, petty traders told DAILY POST how they manage to survive the cashless economy.
Mrs Amara Ugobueze, a trader who deals in food condiments said: “If you keep insisting on cash payment, hunger will kill you. What I and my colleagues in our line have done is that, if someone wants to buy from us, we make sure it’s bulk purchase, and also ensure that we have many food items, so that the customer does not need to be buying pepper here and salt on the other side.
“I opened an account recently through my daughter. So if someone is buying, I give them my account number for transfer.”
Another trader who did not disclose her name said the new strategy is for traders to form a group and receive common transfer and later share among themselves.
“If you are buying fish from my neighbour, if you also need food condiments like spices, you buy them from me and transfer to her, and later we can sort ourselves out,” she said.
Also, in the area of transport, many individual transporters, especially inter-state, have started accepting mobile transfers to their account for fare.
A driver, who plies Awka to Enugu told DAILY POST that: “We stay here at Unizik junction looking for customers, but we realised that many customers will be queuing at Peace (Peace Mass Transit), to go to the same Enugu.
“We found out that it all has to do with lack of cash, and their ability to accept payment through POS. So, here, we now accept transfers, since we do not have POS. But the big problem is the issue of the network, because, sometimes, a passenger will tell you he has paid, and has been debited, but you will not see any alert. That is the challenge we face. We hope that Nigeria will be good again.”
Cash crunch: Petty traders, transporters device means to remain in business