Chaos, as commuters, traders compete for space around Lagos markets
• As Ladipo Awaits Urgent Cleanup
Open markets appear to be greatly favoured by traders and consumers alike, probably because it is easier and cheaper to obtain practically everything, ranging from consumables to appliances, and other items. Even though shopping malls are springing up in their numbers in major cities, open markets still dot every nook and cranny of the country.
In these open markets in Lagos State, as obtained in other major cities; some vendors in their bid to catch the attention of buyers, display their wares beyond the threshold of their shop/stalls. Traders whose shops/stalls are located close to roads, as well as, itinerant traders go the extra mile by encroaching on pedestrian walkways or even motorways not minding the dire consequence of doing that.
For instance, it is common to see traders spilling into the road for want of better visibility in markets like Ladipo Market in Oshodi; Isolo Market, Isolo; Idumota Market, Alaba International Market; Ojo; Daleko Market and Ojuwoye Market both in Mushin Local Council, just to mention a few.
Expectedly, the action of these errant traders has negative implications for other road users, as their activities badly impair the free flow of vehicular and human traffic, resulting in loss of valuable man-hours, especially during peak periods.
For instance, commuting on Akinwumi and Ladipo Streets, two major roads in Ladipo Market between 8am and 7pm, when the traders are still around, is a big headache. Compounding the problem are clients, who are fond of parking their vehicles on a section of the road, while petty traders take over another section of the road, thereby reducing available space for motorists and commuters.
As if the nuisance created by the traders is not enough, commercial transporters, especially motorcyclists and tricycle operators, who ferry shoppers to and from the market, also contribute their quota to the ugly scenes around these markets.
A typical example is Ojuwoye Market in Mushin, where the market’s main entrance opposite Isolo Road has been taken over by commercial motorcyclists and tricycle operators. The little space that is left for shoppers to navigate their way through has also been further narrowed by large wholesale traders who display their wares in cartons several metres into what is supposed to be a road that transverses the market.
Movement in the market is so hampered that in the event of a fire outbreak at the peak of business, swift access for fire trucks to salvage the situation would obviously be a Herculean task.
After repeated calls on the state government by concerned citizens to bring the situation at Ladipo Market under control, the state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, in January paid an unscheduled visit to the market to see things for himself.
There, he expressed displeasure at the pathetic sanitary and dilapidating condition of the market. He thereafter promised to fix the two major roads within the market, which are in a deplorable state, as well as construct a multi-layered car park.
A resident of the area, Lemuel Iyalla, is of the view that the situation in the market, as well as, that in other markets in the state would never have deteriorated to this level not for government’s carefree attitude to maintaining and enforcing discipline at all times in public places.
He also pointed accusing fingers at chieftains of government agencies saddled with the task of maintaining law and order in public places, who look the other way while indiscipline thrives.
Iyalla, therefore called on government to at all times be serious in enforcing relevant laws, so that sanity can prevail. “If we are able to achieve this, the society will be a better place for all,” he said.
Another resident, Adekunle Okunade, described the trend of traders intentionally spilling into roads as “particularly disturbing and annoying.” He added: “This is totally uncalled for and it is an indication that the state government needs to build more affordable markets that would accommodate these traders. Aside that, there should be a statutory market regulatory body, which will focus on regulating the activities of market men and women.”
Okunade accused local councils of only focusing on the revenue they are generating from these markets, while ignoring the nuisance that these traders create. Mercy Okoli is of the opinion that efforts should be made by concerned authorities to provide affordable stalls for traders before striving to curtail their excesses.
According to her, some of these traders resort to displaying their wares by the roadside and thereby disturb the free flow of traffic because they can’t afford the exorbitant rent charged by developers or government as the case may be in emerging modern markets across the state.
“These modern government markets are so expensive. So, how can a petty trader afford to rent a shop in them? Government should provide affordable shops in different parts of the state before talking about getting the traders to comply with state laws,” she added.
Victor Oluwatayo Alofun shares Okolie’s views about government providing affordable shops for traders and showing more concern in citizens’ welfare. “Passing through Bariga after a long day’s work is so tiring for people like me. I spend over an hour on that road because of the activities of traders, which causes severe traffic snarl there daily,” he lamented.
“Most times, it is easy to want to blame it all on government, for not providing the right environment for these traders to carry out their activities, but the truth is that we are actually not our brothers’ keepers and that is the reason the traders do what they do. We just don’t care what the next person feels, but only about ourselves. It won’t be easy for ordinary citizens to talk sense into the perpetrators of this mess, as they will only say it’s their right, forgetting that where their right stops where others’ begins,” he said.
Former President of the Association of Town Planning Consultants of Nigeria, Moses Ogunleye, identified three factors as being responsible for trading activities spilling in to the road.
He noted that most markets in the state were not properly planned, as they usually evolve by accident or history. “Most markets in the state were trading points that got expanded over time to become markets. That is why most of them are very small in size usually less than a hectare, hence they cannot accommodate the volume of trading activities going on there,” said Ogunleye.
According to him, another issue that promotes the spilling of trading activities into roads is competition among traders, as they jostle to solicit for customers. This is aside the fact that the shops are not enough or are too expensive for the average trader.
“There is also the issue of enforcement. Market leaders should educate their members on the need to stop trading by the roadside because of the attendant dangers.”
Ogunleye said the non-availability of parking spaces also contributes to the crisis as “hardly can you drive conveniently into any market to buy things, because there are no car parks.”
The way forward, he said, is to expand the markets, if there is enough space to do so. Another option is to redevelop the markets, so that some spaces are freed for parking lots, or to properly plan and build new markets
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