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Worries over menace of street traders on Abuja roads

By  Ajuluchukwu Brown, Abuja
01 December 2023   |   2:50 am
Residents of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja have expressed displeasure over the increasing number of traders, who cluster around major streets and junctions selling wares, food items and the danger they pose to the environment.

Traders at NNPC junction in Kubwa, Abuja

Residents of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja have expressed displeasure over the increasing number of traders, who cluster around major streets and junctions selling wares, food items and the danger they pose to the environment.

  
They appealed to the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) to double its enforcement operation, limit their activities and impacts on pedestrians as well as vehicular movement.
  
According to them, the disturbing trend has further compounded the street gridlock already worsened by potholes.In recent times, major locations such as Kubwa, Dutse, Karimo, and Bwari market, have witnessed an overflow of traders clogging the major roads with their wares scattered around the corridor.
    
Expounding on the issue, a trader in Kubwa, Mrs. Joy Akadiro, said if those flouting the ban on street trading obey the law, it will stop the loss of lives as recorded in the past and also put an end to endangering the lives of customers and pedestrians.
  
According to her, two major accidents in the recent past along the axis had claimed the lives of many street traders and loss of goods worth millions of naira.
   
She said: “The solutions FCTA has always brought up failed to solve the problem. These street traders keep returning. The risk they expose themselves and others to, is too terrifying to be ignored. In 2021 or 2022 there was a kerosene tanker explosion in the market, out of 10 per cent of the people that died, five per cent were street traders and their customers. After that ugly incident, the task force came and cleared the place but they still returned. They pose a threat not only to themselves but to others. The government should bring a lasting solution to this disturbing trend.”
   
Another trader, Sylvester Ekene who is a leader in the Dutse market, said: “We have done all we can to curb this problem but it keeps recurring. These street traders have made up their mind to continue to endanger their lives. But l believe that if these street traders don’t see customers they will leave the road” he said.
   
For Mr. Yahaya Ahmed, he blamed the government for not having a well-structured plan that controls the high amount charged as rent for shops in Abuja .
   
In his words: “I don’t blame these street traders, they are victims of a failed government. Standard Shops in Kubwa, Wuse, Dutse, and Bwari are not less than N3m yearly. How can an average earner afford such a luxury? For these people, it is better to die on the field searching for food than to die at home because of hunger.    
 
“Chasing this street trader is not the solution. FCTA have chased and chased but nothing is happening that shows that it takes more than that to curb this problem. The administration should make the rents of these shops affordable. They can also create more spaces within the market where low-income earners can build small stalls and sell their wares.”
    
However, the deputy director of monitoring and enforcement, Abuja Environmental Protection Board, (AEPB) Mr. KaKa Bello, assured that the administration is committed to enforcing the ban on street trading.
   
“The AEPB Act has been given the authority and right to arrest, prosecute and confiscate items but the court also does that.  It is at the discretion of the magistrate to either place a fine, or a jail sentence. Confiscation and seizures are also options but the court does all this. A lot of arrests have been made and the culprits have been charged to court.
   
“Abuja is a city for all and it is the image we give to the city that outsiders will give to us. If foreigners have a good impression of Abuja, they will have a good impression of Nigeria,” he said.

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