Inadequate publicity, Naira re-design and fuel scarcity, have combined to take the shine off the ongoing 44th Kaduna International Trade Fair.
Correspondents of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) who visited the venue of the fair, report that the popular annual Trade Fair, known for its hosting of national and international participants, has lost its bubble.
Some stakeholders interviewed by NAN said the intractable security problem afflicting the Northwest states, was the first challenge that started affecting the Fair some years back.
“The security challenges started it all, and after dealing a heavy blow on the event for some years running, Naira re-design and fuel scarcity have joined the fray this year.
“Honestly, the International event this year, is a shadow of its former self; people are struggling at fuel stations, ATM points and PoS centres, therefore, visiting Trade Fair Complex is not a priority.
“Come to look at it, where is the fuel to use in the car to get to the venue? or worst still, where is the money to make purchases at the Fair?”, remarked a stakeholder who did not want his name mentioned.
Speaking to NAN on challenges faced, the Director-General, Kaduna Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (KADCCIMA), Dr Usman Saulawa, confirmed some of the hiccups.
He said that the new Naira Notes policy and perennial fuel scarcity had contributed to low turn-out of participants.
“The re-design of Naira has, in no small measure, affected this year’s Trade Fair, most especially those that wanted to come, construct their stands, exhibit and make on the spot sales.
“To a very great extent, the Trade Fair is also being affected by fuel scarcity, making it extremely difficult for both visitors and exhibitors to attend; this has left us with only few exhibitors and visitors”, he lamented.
Meanwhile, some of the traders and exhibitors at the Fair are also lamenting the low turn-out, saying the development has resulted in poor patronage of their wares because customers were coming in ‘trickles’.
Mr. Bright Tony who came all the way from Lagos, said participants were not much, just as he noted that customers were less, attributing the development to Naira re-design and fuel scarcity.
“Anybody that wants to buy cannot access new Naira Notes easily; even if they want to transfer electronically, the network is not reliable, so it is affecting us negatively.
“Fuel scarcity is another thing affecting the business seriously; I spent thrice, the amount I budgeted for logistics; I pray I do not incur heavy losses this year”, he fumed.
Mrs Rukayya Abdulrazak, a kitchen ware vendor, said scarcity of cash had affected them, saying people were not coming due to hike in transport fare as a result of fuel scarcity.
On her part, Mrs Mary Oyedoko, said she hoped customers would come by Monday, even though there had been serious challenges transferring money electronically, due to bad network.
Also, Mr.Samuel Okpole from Siperco Nigeria Ltd, said he could not come early to the Fair venue due to fuel scarcity, saying he came all the way from Lagos to create awareness about the brand of his product.
“As I speak with you now, I do not have one Naira in my pocket; I have money budgeted for this exhibition in the banks; neither the PoS or banks are willing to give cash.
” I do not have even N100 to buy bottle water because the people selling water do not have PoS, and have refused to accept transfer”, he lamented.
NAN reports that the Fair, which is the 44th edition, kicked-off on Feb.3rd, and will last for 10 days.