Some street traders in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital have commended the state government for extending the April 11, 2018 deadline given them to vacate the streets and major roads in the city.
A mobile street trader, Magnus Abak thanked the governor for heeding their pleas, describing Governor Nyesom Wike as a kind man and prayed God to preserve his life.
Another trader on Aggrey Road, who claims to be the Public Relations Officer of the Union of Traders along that axis of town, Roseline Obeta, in her response also hailed the move by the governor to extend the deadline to vacate the roads.
Obeta, however, stated that it was not enough to extend deadline when no alternatives have been provided.
According to her, “seven days are not enough, where can we get market stalls or shops within seven days even when we do find the shops, what about the money to pay for such shops and stalls?”
She appealed to the government to give them until the completion of the second phase of the ongoing construction of the Rumuwoji, Mile I market.
Chairperson of the Mile 3 Market Women Association, Ndidi Orlu, however, frowned against the extension, saying that it would not make any difference to the street traders.
Orlu noted that there are many vacant stalls in the major markets in Port Harcourt, but these street traders preferred to display their wares in the open streets to avoid paying taxes and other levies accruable to the state.
Additionally, she said most of the street traders are non-indigenes who would not want to contribute to the development of the state stressing, “they do not want to pay levies like sanitation levies to the state, yet they contribute hugely to the environmental degradation and huge refuse littering the street of Port Harcourt.”
The state government had through the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Barr Emma Okah announced after the state Executive Council Meeting, Wednesday, that the council had approved the extension of the vacate-the-streets deadline which elapsed on Wednesday.
Okah, while briefing newsmen after the State Executive Council meeting, noted that the extension was as a result of pleas from the traders to give them more time.
The commissioner informed however, that approval has also been given for the recruitment of 2,000 young men that would work with the state government to stop illegal street trading in Port Harcourt and its environs.