Odumakin, CSOs flay government over street trading law
The drastic implementation of the Lagos State Street Trading and Illegal Market Prohibition Law 2003, which restricts street trading and hawking in the metropolis, have received more knocks from human rights groups, activists and street traders.
Just days after it announced plans to ban street-trading, the Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) has reportedly arrested hundreds of traders hawking wares in different parts of Lagos, destroying or seizing their goods in the process.
A group of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) condemned the official ban on street trading and the military-styled crackdown in very strong terms, describing it as anti-poor, anti-people and capable of further impoverishing the urban poor in light of nationwide excruciating economic conditions.
The organisations, including Spaces for Change, Nigeria, Community Life Project, CEE-HOPE Nigeria, Citizens Center for Integrated Development & Social Rights, Center for Advancement of Development Rights (CEADER), Nsibidi Institute, Koyenum Immalah and the Heinrich Boll Stiftung Foundation, made their stand known in a statement released recently.
Victoria Ohaeri of Spaces for Change, Nigeria, said. “When the reasons advanced by the Lagos State government and the circumstances surrounding the latest ban are considered together, it becomes clear that the decision was taken in a haste, without any prudent analysis and evaluation of its potential impact on the poor, in particular, the women and the youth, who constitute the majority of street traders,” she added.
Ngozi Iwere of Community Life Project described the policy as hasty and ill thought. “The rising poverty levels in the country makes the ban unconscionable and untimely. Coming at a time when inflation rose to a more than six-year high, hitting 15.6 percent, the ban will worsen poverty and unemployment, put a lot of stress on low income families, and make children and women more vulnerable to malnutrition,’ she says.
Traders in Lagos have continued to express disappointment with the directive. A beverage and water hawker in Oshodi, Yemisi Ademola said: “I am not happy to be hawking on the road but this is the only source of income. This is where I get money to pay for the school fees of my three children. I am the one catering for my children and I have been hawking for the past eight years.
I will stop selling on the road if the government can provide incentives to start a business.
Another street trader, Henry Ibokwe, said: “Trading by the roadside is not the end of my life, but presently, this is where I get money to feed my family, we are trading in this area under sun and rain because of the situation in the country. There is no money to rent a shop.”
President of Women Arise for Change Initiative, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, has called on the state government to carry out a massive awareness campaign before its implementation. She said with the present state of the economy, government needs to show understanding in the implementation of such law.
Speaking during a visit to Babs Fafunwa Millennium Senior Grammar School, Ojodu, the woman activist also commended the state of infrastructural development in public schools in Lagos compared to what was obtained in the past.
Dressing in the same uniform with the students as part of activities to mark her 50th birthday, she advised the students to be courageous and work hard with determination to succeed.