Walter Ukaegbu, Abuja
The sleepy Kpeygi village lies along the road to Orozo and Karishi before the vast Post Army Housing Estate Kurudu, and the newly constructed Police Housing Estate.
Before now, motorists and commuters could pass through the village without noticing the area but the story is not the same now because of the presence of a popular garden where roasted fish is sold and consumed by Abuja residents, making the area a busy business place.
During the afternoon only drinks are sold there as business activities during the day is scanty while only customers who go there for drinks are seen. This is because fishes are not roasted during the day but in the evenings.
Once the sun goes down and as people start returning from their various business activities the fish joint will start swelling until it goes to a point where the place will be crowded.
The owner of the facility, Mr. Jones Akpor, said the business started like a beer parlor with few persons roasting suya and fish until many people started to show interest. According to him, since the place is strategically located people started patronizing it before it became a full blown garden.
He explained that those selling fish are on their own but pay a token to him, to do their business, customers go to them to buy fish which they eat while enjoying their drinks.
Mrs. Gloria Essien who is one of the roasted fish sellers confirmed that there is good business at the spot especially on weekends when more people call at the place to relax with their friends:
“During the FIFA games when Nigeria had not been eliminated, many customers called at the fish spot, ate fish and drank bear while watching matches. There are three different prices, one for N500.00, another N1, 500 while the third one is N1, 700.00 (king size) which is called croaker.”
The fishes are bought at New Karu and most of them come from Niger State or Benue State from where they are transported to Abuja: “As you can see they are special kind of fish which when roasted maintains its taste as it brought fresh from their destinations. If it is not fresh we do not buy because customers are very sensitive to the taste and we always give them the best.”
She disclosed that the fishes are roasted very well while; onions, pepper and other ingredients are added to give a beautifying taste. At the said period (after work) vehicles are seen parking on both sides of the road.
With regards to the presence of the roasted fish spot, other drinking places have sprang up opposite the spot as those operating them cash on the fish to sell their own drinks. Music is heard blaring at the various joints, which immediately alert commuters or motorists that something special is happening in the area
Before now, Kpeygi village and another adjoining village Kurudu were not popular or well known. The only popular place before now is the Federal Government Technical College, Orozo. But with the construction of the post Army Housing Estate, Kurudu, which occupies a large area of land and the newly built Police Housing Estate, the area has become popular.
The population helped in no small way in boasting business activities in the area like the roasted fish joint patronised by people from these estates. Churches are not left out as there are Catholic Church, Anglican Church, the Redeemed Christian Church and the Methodist Church at Kurudu.
Nightlife in the area lasts a little bit longer than it is in the metropolis because of the presence of security agencies especially the Army and Police that have their estates in the Area. Crime in the area has been under relative control. Few big hotels in the area are located in the estates while some are springing up in Kpegyis and its environs.
Abuja is known for its vibrant nightlife. For instance, at about 4:00 pm or 5:00 pm if you take a close scrutiny while returning from work, you are held bound by the traffic jam that characterizes the city and you manage to allow your eyes wonder to the sides of the road, that is when you will discover the open spaces converted into relaxation spots called gardens scattered all over the place.
If you have an adventurous nature, you will not miss to observe how organized these business people are. Plastic chairs of different colours are well arranged in their fours with a table in their middle. This is where the fun kicks off for the day. What is particularly of interest is the fact that the women in these gardens or joints are not as noisy compared to what you find elsewhere.
Another thing that is also noticeable about Abuja garden is the issue of class and the additional efforts made by these women to be classy. These gardens afford Abuja residents and visitors the opportunity to unwind after the hustling of the day.