Street Trading And Hawkers In PH

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In most urban centres across the Nigerian federation, street hawking has persisted. This is because it has become a means of earning a living by traders, who are unable to rent shops in the cities. Similarly, some families depend on hawking for a living.

However, street hawking is posing a mayor threat to human lives in most city centres as traders could be easily knocked down by moving vehicles. Besides, street hawking has denied many children of school despite their ripe age of going to school.

More pathetic is the fact that these hawkers take the risk of trading on the highways. This, ofcouse, may be the reason why the Rivers State House of Assembly legislated against street hawking. Also, the Child Rights Act has been domesticated in the state, thus making it compulsory for every child of school age to be mandatorily enrolled in school.

Despite the legislations towards a healthy living, traders who are mostly non-indigenes have violated with impunity both the Child Rights law and the legislation against street hawking. They believe that the law must have a human face in the light of the economic realities in this country.

In what appeared to be a drama of the absurd, hawkers at the Port Harcourt-Aba expressway unleashed their anger on officials of the State Ministry of Environment, especially workers of Environmental Sanitation Authority and some policemen who went to enforce the ban on street hawking.

Around the 82nd Division of Nigerian Army, Bori Camp, Port Harcourt, the hawkers destroyed three vehicles belonging to the State Environmental Sanitation Authority. A policeman, who was said to have been beaten into coma is receiving treatment in an undisclosed hospital in Port Harcourt, following the squabbles between street traders and government officials.

Speaking to Weekend in Port Harcourt, Mr Anietie Udoh, one of the hawkers said that the Ministry of Environment officials were too hostile on the hawkers which led to the brawl.

He said the policeman who was manhandled by the hawkers did not help matters as he too was involved in beating the hawkers, who re-group for a reprisal attack.

According to him, “you see the officials of the ministry were too hostile as they tried to arrest the hawkers. The hawkers wondered whether the officials had a power of arrest. The fact that the ordinary civilians were trying to arrest hawkers without being enabled by the law”.

Mr. Udoh remarked that it served the officials right because citizens of this country deserved the right to earn a living one way or the other, as long as it is not in a criminal manner.

“In a country where paid jobs are far-fetched, you need to make laws with a human face”, the hawker said.

Also speaking, an eyewitness who gave his name as Mr. Emmanuel Chisom, said it was a big row between the officials of government and the hawkers.

Mr. Chisom noted that the officials of government had underestimated the population of the hawkers when they started the raid. “Little did they know that they were going to be confronted”, he said.

The truth of the matter is that those hawkers are majorly criminals that come from neighbouring states”, he further stated.

According to him, “the hoodlums who disguise themselves as hawkers are all over the place. It may be difficult to catch the ring leaders. Although, some arrests have been made, they are unlikely to catch the principal offenders”.

The ban on street trading is intended to bring some sanity in the city. We cannot turn every place to a market. I think the law prohibiting street trading is proper. One thing is to make a law, another thing is to enforce it.

It appears that the laxity in the implementation of the street trading or hawking ban made the hawkers to take liberty for license. However, what happened at Aba Road will certainly bring a lot of changes in Port Harcourt metropolis”, he pointed out.

He said everyone had a right to live anywhere in the world but one must obey the law of the place one lives. “Many non-indigenes are involved in law-breaking. It doesn’t give room for development laws are made to enhance development of the state, correct some social problems, among others”, Mr. Chisom noted.

He said every person had the obligation of contributing to the building of a state, where he lived and not to destroy it. He condemned the confrontation by hawkers of government officials and noted that those who broke the law with impunity should be prepared for the consequence.

The eyewitness, who is also a Riversman expressed regrets that non-indigenes who reside in the state were working against the efforts of the state government.

Another hawker, Mr. Iheanacho Osita, who spoke with The Weekend Tide said the law banning street trading or hawking in Port Harcourt ought to be reviewed because of the contemporary economic realities.

According to him, “unemployment is ravaging the nation. We cannot be going up and down stealing things. We believe in making a living through decent means and that is why some of us have resorted to hawking.

Government should be able to see what they can do to reduce unemployment as it is the only means of alleviating our plight. I wrote my school certificate in 1995 but since then I have not been able to gain employment. We are Nigerians, therefore we should not be treated like common criminals”.

 

Mr. Osita said better job opportunities would remain the only solution to hawking in urban centres, and noted that it had almost become a way of life of the people.

“I think government banned street hawking because of aesthetic reasons but what aesthetics when the man on the street goes hungry. In advanced countries unemployed persons get unemployment allowances among other benefits but in Nigeria, there is hardly any difference between the employed and the unemployed because the farmer do earn a living wage, therefore every body tends to cut corners to survive. We urge government to reconsider the ban on hawking or give us loan to establish our business”, he stated.

He however condemned the use of violence to draw the attention of government to very important issues.

He said the confrontation of the Environmental Sanitation Authority Taskforce on the implementation of the ban on street trading was regrettable and pointed that such ugly incident should not be allowed to happen again.

Another person that spoke about the incident, Mr George Nmah, an educationist, who resides in Port Harcourt, said that time had come when people who had no business in Port Harcourt metropolis would be asked to leave the city.

He explained that most heinous atrocities that were committed in the city of Port Harcourt were unleashed by non-indigenes.

Mr. Nmah said that the hospitality of Rivers people should not be misconstrued as weakness, and noted that in the Nigerian federation, Rivers State was the most accommodating and condemned that attack on government officials.

He said government should closely monitor the activities of hoodlums to forestall a repeat of such ugly incident. The school teacher told Rivers people not join hands with the enemies of the state to spoil good works of Governor Chibuike Amaechi’s government.

Mr. Nmah urged both Rivers people and others in the state to support the good works of the present administration.

He said that he was optimistic that his kinsman would transform the state to a glorious one adding that,  “we can not afford to sit on the fence. We must work in partnership with government to enable us the dream of having a glorious state. The governor to doing well. He believes in projects that will transform the state so we must support him. That is the only way we can appreciate his good works. Look at what he has done within three years, it is wonderful”.

He remarked that what the state government under Rt. Hon. Amaehi had done in three years was unprecedented and urge all to support the government in power.

Also speaking, Mr. Anthony Okenne, a staff of Risonpalm Nucleus Estate, Ubima, condemned the action of the hawkers and described it as criminal. Mr. Okenne noted that unless something was done to closely monitor the hoodlums in the state, there was a likelihood that they would be in for greater mischief.

Mr. Okenne said those who would confront the state government officials were enemies of the state and should be prosecuted without any delay.

He said unless something was done to check mischief makers, government would be in for a surprise.

He said what is currently happening in Aba should not be allowed to happen in Rivers State. According to him, Aba had become a haven for hoodlums, and urged the state government to take urgent steps to checkmate the activities of hoodlums.

Also speaking, Barr. Chijoke Agi, a legal practitioner based in Port Harcourt described the attack of the hawkers on government taskforce as criminal.

Barr. Agi remarked that those who confronted the Environmental Sanitation taskforce on enforcement of the ban on street hawking were enemies of the state and should be punished in accordance with the law of the state.

He said that operation of the hawkers at Port-Harcourt, Aba expressway had long been made illegal by the state legislation and explained that those who violated the law with impurity were criminals.

The legal practitioners said that they should face the full weight of the law so that it would act as deterrent to others.

He expressed regrets that those who violated the law with impunity were not indigenes of the state and wondered why they had not relocated to their own states upon the passage of the law.

He said those who lived in Rome must obey the laws of the Romans, else would be thrown out or prosecuted.

Barr. Agi opined that the hoodlums and their cohorts were blatantly envious of the transformation of the state by the incumbent governor and warned that the good works of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi should be supported by all who reside in the state.

He noted that anybody opposed to the transformation would be made to face the wrath of the law, and enjoyed all to support the vision of the present administration in the state.

According to him, “one does not need a soothsayer to know that Governor Chibuike Amaechi is building the state. If the past governments in the state had done what Amaechi did in three years, the state would have reached its eldorado.”

He encouraged the state government to remain focused and noted it should not be discouraged by the ugly incidents.

The legal practitioner said that the government in power in the state had justified the confidence reposed in it by the electorate.

Barr. Agi urged all to support Amaechi in 2011 in order for him to continue his good works.

Meanwhile, the chairman of Rivers State Environmental Sanitation Special Taskforce on Street Hawking, Mr. Larry Aguma has condemned the attack on his men, who were engaged in their lawful duties. “They came with bottles, machetes and over turned our vehicles.

He told our journalists that the officials were attacked while enforcing the ban on street trading, explaining that some officials of the taskforce who were wounded in the encounter were receiving treatment in some hospitals in Port Harcourt.

On the other hand, Rivers State government has expressed shock at the attack on the sanitation taskforce by street hawkers.

The Chief Press Secretary to the State Governor, Mr. Blessing Wikina said the action had confirmed that disguise gigues themselves as hawkers to cause mayhem in Port Harcourt.

Mr. Wikina noted that the attack by hawkers on the taskforce along Port Harcourt –Aba Expressway on the early hours of Thursday had undoubtedly  shown that criminals had disguised as street traders and warned that street trading remains illegal  and that anyone arrested would be prosecuted.

He also warned that patrons of street trading were also liable for prosecution. Meanwhile, 30 street hawkers have been arrested. The Divisional  Police Officer of Elekahia Police Station  Mr. West said the hawkers in his custody would be prosecuted.

Mr. Osita said better job opportunities would remain the only solution to hawking in urban centres, and noted that it had almost become a way of life of the people.

“I think government banned street hawking because of aesthetic reasons but what aesthetics when the man on the street goes hungry. In advanced countries unemployed persons get unemployment allowances among other benefits but in Nigeria, there is hardly any difference between the employed and the unemployed because the farmer do earn a living wage, therefore every body tends to cut corners to survive. We urge government to reconsider the ban on hawking or give us loan to establish our business”, he stated.

He however condemned the use of violence to draw the attention of government to very important issues.

He said the confrontation of the Environmental Sanitation Authority Taskforce on the implementation of the ban on street trading was regrettable and pointed that such ugly incident should not be allowed to happen again.

Another person that spoke about the incident, Mr George Nmah, an educationist, who resides in Port Harcourt, said that time had come when people who had no business in Port Harcourt metropolis would be asked to leave the city.

He explained that most heinous atrocities that were committed in the city of Port Harcourt were unleashed by non-indigenes.

Mr. Nmah said that the hospitality of Rivers people should not be misconstrued as weakness, and noted that in the Nigerian federation, Rivers State was the most accommodating and condemned that attack on government officials.

He said government should closely monitor the activities of hoodlums to forestall a repeat of such ugly incident. The school teacher told Rivers people not join hands with the enemies of the state to spoil good works of Governor Chibuike Amaechi’s government.

Mr. Nmah urged both Rivers people and others in the state to support the good works of the present administration.

He said that he was optimistic that his kinsman would transform the state to a glorious one adding that,  “we can not afford to sit on the fence. We must work in partnership with government to enable us the dream of having a glorious state. The governor is doing well. He believes in projects that will transform the state so we must support him. That is the only way we can appreciate his good works. Look at what he has done within three years, it is wonderful”.

He remarked that what the state government under Rt. Hon. Amaehi had done in three years was unprecedented and urge all to support the government in power.

Also speaking, Mr. Anthony Okenne, a staff of Risonpalm Nucleus Estate, Ubima, condemned the action of the hawkers and described it as criminal. Mr. Okenne noted that unless something was done to closely monitor the hoodlums in the state, there was a likelihood that they would be in for greater mischief.

Mr. Okenne said those who would confront the state government officials were enemies of the state and should be prosecuted without any delay.

He said unless something was done to check mischief makers, government would be in for a surprise.

He said what is currently happening in Aba should not be allowed to happen in Rivers State. According to him, Aba had become a haven for hoodlums, and urged the state government to take urgent steps to checkmate the activities of hoodlums.

Also speaking, Barr. Chijoke Agi, a legal practitioner based in Port Harcourt described the attack of the hawkers on government taskforce as criminal.

Barr. Agi remarked that those who confronted the Environmental Sanitation taskforce on enforcement of the ban on street hawking were enemies of the state and should be punished in accordance with the law of the state.

He said that operation of the hawkers at Port-Harcourt-Aba expressway had long been made illegal by the state legislation and explained that those who who violated the law with impurity were criminals.

The legal practitioners said that they should face the full weight of the law so that it would act as deterrent to others.

He expressed regrets that those who violated the law with impunity were not indigenes of the state and wondered why they had not relocated to their own states upon the passage of the law.

He said those who lived in Rome must obey the laws of the Romans, else would be thrown out or prosecuted.

Barr. Agi opined that the hoodlums and their cohorts were blatantly envious of the transformation of the state by the incumbent governor and warned that the good works of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi should be supported by all who reside in the state.

He noted that anybody opposed to the transformation would be made to face the wrath of the law, and enjoyed all to support the vision of the present administration in the state.

According to him, “one does not need a soothsayer to know that Governor Chibuike Amaechi is building the state. If the past governments in the state had done what Amaechi did in three years, the state would have reached its eldorado.”

He encouraged the state government to remain focused and noted it should not be discouraged by the ugly incidents.

The legal practitioner said that the government in power in the state had justified the confidence reposed in it by the electorate.

Barr. Agi urged all to support Amaechi in 2011 in order for him to continue his good works.

Meanwhile, the chairman of Rivers State Environmental Sanitation Special Taskforce on Street Hawking, Mr. Larry Aguma has condemned the attack on his men, who were engaged in their lawful duties. “They came with bottles, machetes and over turned our vehicles.

He told our journalists that the officials were attacked while enforcing the ban on street trading, explaining that some officials of the taskforce who were wounded in the encounter were receiving treatment in some hospitals in Port Harcourt.

On the other hand, Rivers State government has expressed shock at the attack on the sanitation taskforce by street hawkers.

The Chief Press Secretary to the State Governor, Mr. Blessing Wikina said the action had confirmed that hoodlums disguise  themselves as hawkers to cause mayhem in Port Harcourt.

Mr. Wikina noted that the attack by  hawkers on the taskforce  along Port Harcourt–Aba Expressway on the early hours of Thursday had undoubtedly  shown that criminals had disguised as street traders and warned that street trading remains illegal  and that anyone arrested would be prosecuted.

He also warned that patrons of street trading were also liable for prosecution. Meanwhile, 30 street hawkers have been arrested. The Divisional  Police Officer of Elekahia Police Station  Mr. West said the hawkers in his custody would be prosecuted.