Ban On Street Trading And Matters Arising | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Ban On Street Trading And Matters Arising

Posted: Jul 11, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


There has been much furor about the recent announcement by the Executive Governor of Lagos State, His Excellency, Akinwunmi Ambode, on full enforcement of the Lagos State Street Trading and Illegal Market Prohibition Law of 2003. It has been met with mixed reactions by public analysts, businesses and individuals. Despite the reactions, the law took effect from 1st of July 2016 and there has been significant drop in the number of street traders on the major streets.

This move is perceived to be part of the efforts of the State Government at turning Lagos State to a ‘Mega City’. While this action may be considered as a step in the right direction, we believe that the reintroduction could have been handled better.

First, let us examine the implications of this newly re-invoked law. This law will have a direct negative impact on the GDP of the State and the nation at large. The activities of these street traders form part of the aggregate production in the state, so putting them out of business will have negative impact on the State GDP, of course with its attendant effects. The Street traders and hawkers affected are mostly trading goods and services that are legal and considered safe by the public, so shutting down these legal businesses is tantamount to declaring their trades illegal.

Another implication is the likelihood to record higher incidences of crime which was one of the underpinnings for introducing this law initially. In the absence of alternative trading places for the street traders and hawkers, the tendencies are high that a large percentage of them will be lured into engaging in criminal activities.

Furthermore, unless proven otherwise, this may be perceived by indigenes of other states resident in Lagos as another attempt by the Lagos State Government to ‘technically deport’ indigenes of other States back to their various States of Origin. Lagos State Government must understand that flow of people and resources across the nation is naturally determined by market forces, so unless there are entry barriers, you cannot hinder the flow of people into the State. It is also noteworthy to point out that Lagos State has benefitted tremendously over the years from the contributions of other states’ indigenes resident within the state.

It would be recalled that this present administration rode into power on the mantra of ‘Lagos for all’ and the incumbent Governor won votes across all spectrum of the society. It therefore behooves the State to put up a human face in the implementation of this law. While making our streets freer and cleaner is a good and laudable project, creating alternatives for these traders in forms of designated streets, times and places should have been a precursor to this development.

Also, knowing that the Local Council Development Areas(LCDAs) usually tax these traders in form of trade permits, couple with their various union fees, denying them their means of living, amounts to nothing but punishing the poor. It is therefore needful that the State Government liaises with the LCDAs to manage the traders’ activities better. The LCDAs are closer to them and are in a better position to ensure proper conduct of these traders in designated places.

In the implementation of this law, it is equally important that the activities of the Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) Officers are closely monitored because they have tendencies of mishandling violators of street trading and road crossing laws. If they must arrest violators, it should be done decently and without beating or maltreating the offenders. In the same vein, they should also desist from the use of ‘Black Maria’ to convey offenders to Court. ‘Black Maria’ vehicle is dehumanising and should only be used for hardened and convicted criminals, if it must be used at all.

One of the purposes of governance is to create employment opportunities and provide a conducive environment for entrepreneurial activities. In the absence of palliative measures or alternatives for the street traders, the reintroduction of this law runs directly opposite the essence of governance. The State Government should therefore find other means of creating employment opportunities for the teeming unemployed populace.

With the current depressed state of the Nigerian economy and resultant job loss and high cost of living, the State Government needs to quickly provide palliative measures for the various implications of this law and ensure humaneness in its implementation.