Eko Akete: Lesson in obeying hawking ban

Traders still on the street moments after the Lagos State government announced the enforcement of the law against street trading and hawking, on Friday. PHOTO: SYLVESTER OKORUWA.

Indeed mixed reactions have trailed the ban of road hawking in Lagos. While only few have repudiated the idea of road hawking in a state that is fast ascending the mega city ladder, a large majority nurse the fear that Lagos may cease from being Lagos when hawking is finally vanquished.

A state famed for its quotidian traffic jams and long-drawn-out journeys to short distances, Lagos is also known as the land of the hustlers. Hawking, as one of its many inventions, is a necessity. From selling refreshments to household items, hawkers at many occasions have earned their titles as godsend. There are few bad eggs among the hawkers. The reports of robbing unsuspecting buyers of their valuables in broad day light have been heard. This is not mentioning the high risk of hawking on a highway. But here is how Lagosians are weighing in on the matter. Eko Akete  eavesdropped the conversation between two employees on a road side.

“Why should civilised and educated people be selling wares on the street?” the first, a woman of middle age and officiously dressed, queried. “It is not done. Go to even Benin Republic and see how organised the streets and roads are,” she concluded almost annoyingly.

They were seen at the Kingsway bus stop in Ikeja waiting for a bus. It was already afternoon and the sun was present. “So if I am in traffic and I see gala and lacasera I will just tie my stomach till I get home eh!” the other fellow, a light-skinned man in suit and tie, said reserving the remainder of his rage. He didn’t sound quite finished. A bus pulled over. The bus conductor, who was clutching a half-eaten sausage roll, confirmed the bus was going to Yaba. It was time to enter, but as soon as he said N200, everyone was offended. No one entered. The man resumed immediately.

“Some laws are not worth the papers on which they are printed. This is one of such laws. You can’t jump the gun because you want change. The most reasonable thing to do is to expand the state’s economic frontiers, solve traffic problems and street hawking will be less lucrative”.

There were no hawkers on this road. In fact, there weren’t many vehicles too. The road was free. It was lunch hour. The sun stood firmly eyeing everyone. The man adjusted his tie. Still no vehicles. There was brief silence.

“So if I am dehydrated and thirsty and there is a ready hawker to meet my need, kini kin se (what should I do)? Die of thirst?” the lady who had been remonstrating with street traders and those patronising them, said with a sudden burst of defiance. She was about retreating to a nearby shade when she unzipped her handbag, brought out a bottled water, took a sip and shot a glance at her colleague.

Only her could tell where the bottle of water came from.