Street Trading Ban: Lagos killing 5 birds with a stone
The recent decision by the Lagos State Government to fully enforce the prohibition of street trading has elicited lots of debate and mixed reactions. While some argue it would increase the suffering of the affected hawkers, thereby forcing them to turn to crime, others view it as a long over-due development which further aids government’s overall efforts at sanitizing Lagos.
While there might be some merit on both sides of the argument, these article seeks to focus on five overwhelming justifications for government’s decision.
Littering and poor sanitation has long been a major problem in over-populated Lagos. Apart from the common cases of refuse dumping in gutters, sidewalks and medians, a lot of street littering is by traffic goods consumers. Most pedestrians and vehicle occupants would often throw any waste product, including bottles, from goods bought in traffic or from road-side hawkers on the road.
However, if there is no street trading, there is little or no littering.
Piracy has been a major problem for both the performing artists and government in Nigeria. If not for endorsement deals and performance invitations by major companies and multinationals, most of our top actors and musicians would be struggling. Piracy makes it very hard to profit from album sales; and no where are these pirated CDs more sold than in traffic. While the street trading ban might not eradicate piracy, it would reduce it – most people would only buy these CDs in traffic.
There was a time in Lagos when driving at traffic light points was a nightmare. In between lanes of cars getting ready for the green light signal were legions of Okada riders, street hawkers and unsolicited windscreen cleaners – who, by the way, need to be sent off the streets ASAP too.
Maryland traffic light is a notable example. The spot became a lot saner with the banning of Okada and it’s expected that the street trading ban would improve the situation further.
Safety of lives
If you drive in Lagos, chances are that you might have almost knocked down a traffic hawker at some point.
These hawkers are notorious for continuing to sell to vehicle passengers and drivers until the moment the light turns green, at which point they start scrambling to reach the side walks, thereby recklessly jumping in front of accelerating vehicles. This also happens when they are trying to catch up with a beckoning vehicle occupant who is two or three lanes away.
Hopefully, the ban on their activities would help to prevent these type of accidents.
Like Okada riding, street trading is one of the main attractions for Nigerians who troop into Lagos everyday from different parts on the country. The governor of the state, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, was recently reported to have said that 86 people enter Lagos every minute. Although, the figure might be a bit exaggerated, it nonetheless gives a sense of how urgently Lagos needs to adopt some form of population control mechanism to protect its over-stretched infrastructures.
The ban on street trading would go a long way in that regard.