“My name is Modinat and I am from Kwara state. I sell kitchen apron. I am selling on the street because I cannot go and do ashawo. Make una tell Governor Ambode to help us o.”
That was the plaintive cry from Modinat, a street hawker who sells her wares at the Maryland bus stop, a popular haunt for street hawkers.
Two weeks after Governor Ambode banned street selling and buying with a six month jail term or N90,000 fine for offenders, those who make their living selling on the streets have been reacting and so have many who patronize them.
Many Lagosians see the governor’s vow to implement the Lagos State Street Trading and Illegal Market Prohibition Law 2003 as a knee jerk reaction occasioned by the violent protests by street hawkers in the wake of the death of one of them who while being chased by KAI officials was knocked down and killed by a BRT bus. (Read story here)
The violent protest that ensued led to the destruction of many buses with the Governor putting the damage at N139million.
“I need to tell Lagosians that over 49 buses were actually destroyed and it is costing us like almost N139m to put those buses back on the road,” the governor said on a Channels Television programme monitored in Lagos
Emmanuel Ogbonna who sells sun glasses at Maryland is aware of the law and its implications but he says he prefers to hustle on the streets instead of begging or stealing. “I cannot steal. I hate someone stealing, if I see someone hustling as am hustling now, if he doesn’t have money, and he ask me for money I will give him if I have. I can do other work apart from hustling but where is the work? So, I will not be idle without doing something because if I keep on begging you to give me money, is it proper? I have to do something and get small change for me to sustain.”
Popular columnist, Reuben Abati writing in sabinews in reaction to the ban wrote “To get hawkers off the streets, government must provide alternative opportunities and invest more in social capital. The menace of traffic hold ups should be addressed and a proper transportation network must be in place. Shops and stalls must be affordable and accessible and markets should be located in user-friendly locations.” (Read full article here)
With none of these in place, the hawkers say the government should have a rethink.
Emmanuel sells newspapers and magazines and his submission is simple “this ban is very bad. Government should do something about it. If people carry gun now dem go say dem dey steal, say dem no wan work. Now wey we dey hustle, KAI still dey disturb us. Tell the government to pity us o.”
Festus sells bottled water at Maryland and he is pouring sweat as he stops to count the money a bus passenger threw at him from the window of a speeding vehicle
“I wan make all this thing stop. Nobody want to dey work dis kain work before him chop. Every body like to get shop. I no fit do thief work that na why I dey hustle for street like this. Make governor comot this ban?