Mixed Reactions Trail Lagos Govt’s Enforcement Of ‘No Street Trading Law’ | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Mixed Reactions Trail Lagos Govt’s Enforcement Of ‘No Street Trading Law’

Street hawkers on the streets of Lagos
Posted: Jul 6, 2016 at 3:45 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Chukwudi Nweje and Chinyere Abiaziem


If you called it a case of one man’s meat being another man’s poison, you may not be too far from the truth.

The Lagos Sate Government’s ban on street trading and the hard stance to send both the hawker and anyone buying wares from them to prison for up to six months with an option of N90, 000 fine has sharply divided residents of the state.

While some hailed the Lagos State Government’s position as welcomed and long overdue, others said it was extreme and insensitive to the present economic realities, especially when the government had not provided jobs for the teeming unemployed or provided alternatives for the traders they are sending off the streets.

The Lagos State Government on Friday, July 1 said it would commence a total enforcement against street trading and street hawkers. It reiterated that the law banning these activities across the metropolis would take its full course.

Governor Akinwunmi Ambode disclosed the tough stance during a live interview session on Television Continental (TVC). He noted that the enforcement is in line with Section 1 of the Lagos State Street Trading and Illegal Market Prohibition Law 2003, which restricted street trading and hawking in the metropolis.

He made the announcement on the heels of the destruction of some BRT buses by a mob, on Wednesday June 29, following the death of a street hawker, who was knocked down and killed by an articulated truck, while he was trying to evade officials of the state’s Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI), who were enforcing the ban on street trading around Maryland Bus stop on Ikorodu Road.

“It is not in our DNA to allow someone to just die by road accident or the way it happened in respect of the incident. But beyond the fact that we lost one person while crossing the road as a result of evading arrest by KAI officials, I need to tell Lagosians that over 49 buses were actually destroyed and it is costing us like almost N139 million to put those buses back on the road,” Governor Ambode said.

He added that the State Executive Council has resolved to enforce the Law, which makes both the hawker and the buyer liable of the offence.

“The issue is we need to enforce our laws because we already have a law in respect of that and then there is a clause in it which says the buyer and the seller are both liable and that we are going to fine them either N90, 000 or a six month jail term.

“We will be watching out for buyers and sellers and all we need is just scapegoat. Don’t buy plantain chips or any other items in traffic from July 1, buyers beware,” Governor Ambode warned.

However, Lagosians have expressed mixed feelings on the new stance of the Government.

In one of his articles, Ruben Abati, a former Special Adviser, Media to former president Goodluck Jonathan was quoted to have written that “People sell on the streets because they cannot afford to rent shops or erect structures, and in any case, government is often part of this problem…. Markets are taken over by the authorities with the intention to modernise them, but when the shops and stalls are built, the original traders can no longer afford them because they would have been taken over by the rich and prized beyond the reach of the poor who are then forced onto the streets…

“This is the story of Tejuoso market in Lagos, as is the story of others across the country. If street traders had a choice, they would also acquire permanent structures where they can display their wares in safety. If they could help it, they will also sit in the comfort of air-conditioned vehicles.”

This assertion is very true. Tejuosho is not the only market had had been demolished.  The Owonifari Market in Oshodi and a section of Ladipo market in Mushin were demolished and the traders who had shops there thrown out.

Mr. Femi, a Management Consultant, resident in Oke-Ira, Ogba condemned the hard stance of the State Government, especially as “the government still owes the citizens a lot of responsibility that they (the State Government) are shying away from.”

He noted that even in the developed countries, that there are street traders. He said that at the very worst, even if the Lagos state government wanted to ban street trading, it should have provided an alternative before taking such action.

Femi also condemned what he called the Lagos state government’s pursuit for internally generated revenue (IGR) by imposing a N90, 000 fine on those that breached the ban on street trading. According to him, such amount may be more than the gross total of the worth of the goods such street hawkers carry.

He said that the ideal thing would have been for the government to organise the street traders in a way that they don’t constitute a nuisance.

Chidubem, also a businessman opposite Excellence Hotels in Aguda, Ogba noted that street trading is a common phenomenon all over the world and that the Lagos government should acknowledge their essential value.

“Even in the developed world, you have street hawkers. You can’t ban street trading when you have not provided an alternative.  There are no jobs; even those working are being sacked.

“Some of these hawkers are graduates. But they are hawking because the government doesn’t support anybody. Banning street trading is not the solution.

Chinaza Uzor, a student argued that the government should have provided an alternative before chasing hawkers off the streets.

“If hawking on the high way has been banned by the government, other options of survival should be provided by the government for the hawkers. Government should consider that most of these hawkers do not have the qualification for skilled jobs, though we have few amongst them who are graduates.

“If most of our graduates today still move about looking for jobs, what then is the fate of these hawkers who are averagely literate?  Personally, I feel chasing them away from the high ways will not help matters. It will worsen the insecurity in the state as robbery and other criminal activities will increase,” he said.

Akudo Maduka, a Businesswoman, said the ban will not only affect the hawkers, but also the companies that manufacture the wares the hawkers sell.

“I feel this recent development is likely going to affect companies and individuals who produce or distribute some of the goods these hawkers sell.

The distributors who supply cold drinks and water to these hawkers will be affected as their sales will drop. Also the consumers who get to buy snacks and water to quench their thirst will also be affected.

However, there are others who find the action justified.

Charles, a banker lives in Ogba, but has his office at Maryland. He said the ban was long overdue as the street hawkers had become a nuisance to motorists.

He said the hawkers not only obstruct the smooth flow of traffic, they also damage people’s property in their quest to make sales.