The menace of street trading

Recently, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) issued a stern warning to traders who are in the habit of turning road shoulders and corridors to platforms to market their wares to desist from the illegal activities.

The Ministerial Taskforce on Traffic Management (MTTM) led by Mr. Ikharo Attah, issued the warning on behalf the FCTA while on inspections at the Nyanya Market, road shoulders and corridors in the area.

Ikharo said that his team would not hesitate to confiscate items/properties of defaulters and take them to court as exhibits in order to obtain forfeiture.

He said, “And if we are able to get the court order from the judge, we will likely distribute the items, be they clothes or food items, to orphanages and centres for persons living with disabilities.”

He further warned traders that the Minister of the FCTA, Malam Muhammad Bello, was not taking the issue of trading on road shoulders and corridors lightly.

Attah was particularly worried about the scale of activities in places like Nyanya, Karu, Dutse Alhaji axis, the NNPC junction along the Kubwa Expressway among other hot spots where traders have practically converted road shoulders and corridors into illegal markets, thus impeding traffic flows.

Overhead pedestrian bridges are also not spared of the menace. Traders are known to display their wares by hanging them on the railings especially in the evening hours, leaving pedestrians to meander through them. Some bridge users are even discouraged by the obstruction such activities pose. Those ones put their lives at risk by sprinting across the expressways.

The menace of roadside trading in the FCT has become unbearable especially during the evening hours. Apart from those who display their wares by the roadsides, there are traders who identify some major roads where traffic-build upsare common in the evening hours sell their wares. Such traders are seen darting across the streets to market their items. In most cases, they put themselves in harm’s way while running after patrons. Some motorists set their teeth on edge as they apply brakes to avoid running over overzealous and daring hawkers.

Trading by the roadsides is not peculiar to the FCT alone. The practice has become a national menace. Day in and day out, reports of accidents occurring in roadside markets across the country are seen in the media. Even where market structures are in place, most traders prefer to move their wares to the roadsides in order to make quick bucks from motorists and passengers who may not have the patience to navigate through the markets for quick purchases.

Such roadside traders are in constant danger of vehicles, especially articulated ones, that oftentimes lose control and plough through them and their patrons, leading to avoidable loss of several lives and their wares.

Calls have been made to the appropriate authorities like the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) to address the menace by discouraging the idea of turning roadside markets into killing fields through the recklessness of commercial drivers and those that put faulty or ill-maintained vehicles on the roads. Trailers and other articulated automobiles are guilty of this menace.

As for the FCT experience, we urge the administration to look beyond introducing punitive measures for defaulters. It should provide and/or expand the existing market places in those spots where illegal markets operate. Thereafter, it should compel the traders to migrate to such locations. Traders are tempted to take over the available space by the roadsides and even walkways because they see a vacuum or an opportunity.

In this era of security challenges and petty crimes, motorists would get easily agitated when trapped in gridlocks occasioned by clogging of the roads by illegal traders. Criminal find such situations very conducive for their activities, robbing motorists of their valuables.

Roadside traders and hawkers alike are also advised to put their safety first while carrying out their businesses. Dashing across the highways or meandering through traffic to sell their goods is suicidal.

While the appropriate authorities have the responsibility to save Nigerians from themselves, these daring traders and hawkers should avoid a situation where they expose their lives to danger in the course of eking out incomes.

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