The menace of street trading and its untold impact in Lagos State has prompted a fresh move by the government to re-enforce the ban not too long in the state. Government has directed the task force on environmental sanitation and other special offences to ensure compliance.
However, in a bid to enforce this law, the unfortunate happened in the month of June when a young hawker fled from the officials of the Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) and was killed by an oncoming BRT bus in Maryland part of Lagos. In protest, miscreants and fellow hawkers went on rampage destroying about 48 BRT buses and injuring commuters as a way of solidarity for the dead boy.
Many have accused Governor Ambode led government saying that the ban is oppressive on the common man trying to survive. Meanwhile, the state branch of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights has condemned the ban on street trading.
In a statement made available to press a few weeks ago, signed by the state chairman, Mr. Alex Omotehinse, it accused the state government of “lacking in social welfare responsibility”.
It is unfortunate that many activists are lining up behind the common man. Nobody seems to be considering the safety side of street trading.
No matter how we look at it, street trading in the real sense of it has its own ‘occupational’ risk. It is obvious that those who engage in it would rather think of their “daily bread” first, than consider the risks involved – part of which is what the hawker who lost his life in Maryland experienced.
Although the economic situation has been attributed to why people engage in street trading and hawking today, but that is not enough reason to justify why many are in it because it has done more harm than good.
We see a lot of youths and even children hawkers struggling to make ends meet on the street, many of whom have been victims of rape, attack by hoodlums, indiscriminate arrest, confiscation of wares and occasional incarceration in police cell for violation of the street trading law and many more.
As at today the law banning street trading has a fine which is payment of N90, 000 or jailed for 6 months (Street Trading and Illegal Market Prohibition Law 2003).And you ask, how many of them even make up to this amount of sales monthly?
That is not all; street traders and hawkers are exposed constantly to extreme heat and rain, and physical strain due to long standing, carrying of wares and at times running positions trying to make sales.
Environmentally, street traders have contributed to the unhygienic state of our highways. They have no regard for sanitation because of the nature of their business. They leave their droppings on the floor, with the breeze assisting them to dump them inside our drainage and worst still they engage in open air defecation thereby increasing the workload of our highway cleaners (LAWMA).
When one considers all of these dangers, and environmental pollution caused by the activities of hawkers, shouldn’t it therefore be enough reason to discourage the act of engaging in street trading? These are some of the questions begging for answer.
Just on Monday July 25, a Newspaper reported that some teenage hawkers took to their heels on sighting men of the Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) while plying their trade at Alausa, Ikeja despite the ban. You can imagine the effrontery.