Many youths have continued with street trading and hawking in the traffic despite the stance of the state government to go tough on anyone doing so.
The Punch reports that a few days after Governor Akinwunmi Ambode stated his resolve to enforce an existing law prohibiting these activities, the bustle of street trading has not disappeared.
Following the crisis provoked by the death of a hawker who was reportedly crushed while trying to evade arrest by officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency, Ambode had decided to enforce the provisions of the Street Trading and Illegal Market Prohibition Law 2003. In implementing the law, the governor had also said that both buyers and sellers would be liable to pay either a fine of N90,000 or get a six-month jail term.
However, findings by our correspondent on some roads across the state have revealed that many youths are still hawking various commodities in traffic-prone areas.
From Alausa, in the Central Business District, to Abule-Egba area, Maryland axis and Iju road, youths can be seen hawking various items unperturbed.
Some of them who spoke to our correspondent on Friday lamented that the ban had made life unbearable for them.
A handkerchief seller along Iju road, who identified himself only as Tunde, said sales had dropped drastically for him since the ban.
“This is my second day of coming out and I am a little scared. I live with my brother and he encouraged me to come out yesterday after staying at home for three days. But I have not sold up to a dozen handkerchiefs since yesterday because even passengers are afraid to buy. My brother told me that things would come back to normal after some days and I really hope so,’’ he said.
As the afternoon sun bore down on residents on Friday, young men and women were seen hawking walnuts, gums, and soft drinks and other items at the Secretariat end of the Awolowo Road.
A young girl hawking walnuts told our correspondent that there was nothing else for her to do than to hawk.
“My mother also sells sachet water in the traffic. There is nowhere for us to go. I have to help my mother and I will be careful not to get arrested. My mother does not have N90, 000,’’ she said.
Our correspondent, however, observed that many of the hawkers have migrated to the Mowe-Ibafo-Magboro end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, where they believe they are free, since the areas are in Ogun State, which does not seem to have banned street trading.
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 our correspondent on Monday, signed by the state chairman, Mr. Alex Omotehinse, it accused the state government of “lacking in social welfare responsibility’’.
“It is important to note that a large percentage of the street hawkers are youths who, as a result of the failure of the government in its social responsibility, designed alternative means of surviving and not engage in crime,’’ the CDHR said.