CALABAR: No Longer Where To Relax, Catch Fun

OVER the years, Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, has been known for its robust nightlife tradition, with local drinking joints and leisure places booming.

Most people in the city are known to be owners of restaurants and drinking parlours, and on every street corner, you are sure to find chairs and tables lined up to welcome customers. People equally relax after a hectic day at the popular suya arcade, where you can enjoy barbecued beef of your choice.

From Marian Road to Ekon Ita, Bogo Biri, Ettagbo and Calabar Road, business activities go on till the wee hours of the morning.

The thriving nightlife, no doubt, help the economy of the state, such that, in the last few years, more relaxation joints sprung up. However, in the last one year, there has been a lull in business, basically, as a result of delay in payment of workers’ salaries, as many no longer have the money to play around with.

The Guardian gathered that since the state has a large population of civil servants, delay in salaries has been a major challenge, as it has affected other activities. Recall that for the past seven months, there has been delay in the payment of workers’ salary in the state, and this has caused low turnout of customers in relaxation spots in the city of Calabar.

A local bar owner, Friday Adiebo, while lamenting, said, “it is only when workers are paid that we can have high patronage.” Though, he agrees that this has been a long time experience, “we have been managing it.”

Adiebo also lamented the issue of multiple taxes by the state government. He said, “the system has affected so many businesses. Some relaxation spots have closed down, because they cannot afford to pay so much.”

According to him, “people who cannot cope have decided to partner with us, by putting up shades in the premises, they sell varieties of items like African dishes, roasted plantain and fish, all kinds of pepper soup and lots more, while we sale drinks.”

For the manager of a popular nightclub in Calabar, Mr. Ernest Wilson, considering the nature of their business, it is very difficult to hazard a guess as to the level at which patronage has dropped. He, however, pointed out, “sometimes, you make sales, and sometimes, the patronage will be low. When there is live football matches, the whole place will be filled with people, but at the end of the day, you will find out that the sales you made was not as much as the people who came to watch the match. They will come and sit down without buying anything and after the match, they leave.”

Wilson added, “we have the barbecue corner, but they are not directly under us, as we only partner with the owners. Our business here is based only on drinks, when you buy a bottle of drink, you could also get chicken or suya to blend it.”

On multiple taxation, Wilson corroborated Adiebo, saying, the amount you pay for tax is beyond the profit you make in a month, but there is nothing we can do that will be better than staying in business.”

He continued, “sometimes, the money we use in keeping this place going does not come from the business, it could be from the director’s personal salary, if we really want to depend on the money we make from here, by now, we must have closed down the place. It is from this business we subscribe for DSTV, we buy diesel to run the generator, so, we just have to manage from other sources.”

The Secretary of Suya Arcade, Mallam Mustapha Yusuf, who said suya business has gone down tremendously over the years. He said before now, they resumed sales at 6pm and close by 2am, but since early this year, it has always been 5pm till 11.30 pm.

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