Have you ever wondered what it would be like driving through Lagos without street hawkers pushing products on you? Less congestion on the roads? Less crime? Is there a correlation to street hawkers and crimes? Less personality and culture? For many Lagosians, it is unimaginable yet that is what Governor Fashola is determined to do.
“Emmanuel Okpe lives in Iyana-Ipaja and works on the Lagos Island. He says that he buys food and drinks from street traders while stuck in traffic on his way home from work in the evenings because he gets home late due to traffic congestion.
He thinks that the decision by the Lagos State government to crack down on street traders and remove them from roads will have an adverse effect on commuters like him.
“It’s going to be the worst calamity that will happen to us,” he says. “There is no way you will avoid go-slow (traffic delay) in Lagos. A trip that should take you less than one hour, you end up spending three hours, and when you are in the hold-up like this, you start looking for ways to satisfy yourself. These street traders are actually helping us on the road.”
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While there is a compelling argument, primarily safety, to make for banning street hawkers from Lagos highways and roads, I wonder what policies are in place and will be implemented to allow these hawkers find a way to make a living. Will we see the ushering in of flea markets just like there are in the West? Also, is this the begining of an explosion of retail stores like we have never seen before, the mom and pop local shops across the street or is it just statistically adding to the high rate of unemployment in the country?