The Lagos State Government has said it yesterday commence a total enforcement against street trading and street hawkers from what time the law banning their activities across the metropolis would take its full effect.
Speaking at a live interview session on Television Continental, the State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode said that the renewed enforcement was in line with Section One of the Lagos State Street Trading and Illegal Market Prohibition Law 2003 which restricts street trading and hawking in the metropolis.
The Governor, while sympathising with the family of a street hawker who was knocked down by an articulated truck while trying to evade arrest from officials of Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) along Maryland Bus stop on Wednesday, regretted that the situation led to the destruction of public assets.
“It is not in our DNA to allow someone to just die by road accident or the way it happened in respect of the incident. But beyond the fact that we lost one person while crossing the road as a result of evading arrest by KAI officials, I need to tell Lagosians that over 49 buses were actually destroyed and it is costing us like almost N139 million to put those buses back on the road,” he said.
Consequently, Governor Ambode said the State Executive Council had resolved to enforce the Law, which according to him made both the hawker and the buyer liable of the offence.
“The issue is we need to enforce our laws because we already have a law in respect of that and then there is a clause in it which says the buyer and the seller are both liable and that we are going to fine them either N90, 000 or a six month jail term.
“What we are doing on traffic is that we are introducing new strategies to eliminate traffic but Lagos being a cosmopolitan city, you cannot totally eliminate it but now this is the case, in the next few days, you will see on the street of Lagos signs that will be warning you that buyers and hawkers should be aware that there are consequences,” Governor Ambode said.
He explained that his administration had also concluded plans to roll out a massive campaign which would warn both motorists and hawkers of the restrictions and the penalty for defaulters.
“We will be watching out for buyers and sellers and all we need is just scapegoat. Don’t buy plantain chips or any other item in traffic from July 1, buyers beware,” Governor Ambode warned.
He said aside from the environmental hazards associated with the activities of street traders and hawkers alike, they also pose great security and health risks.
“A whole lot of people who are hawkers, when you check them, I understand from intelligence that there is a cartel. Some people buy fake products and then bring the products in and then give these boys to sell on the street and come back to make returns in the night. So, what I want to advise Lagosians is that most times when you think you are buying something of quality on the road, be rest assured that those things are fake product,” Governor Ambode said.
He however said that much as the State Government intended to be civil in enforcing the law, some recalcitrant persons try to subvert the process, hence the need to ensure total compliance with the law.
Asked what plans the Government had for unemployed graduates who had taken to street hawking, Governor Ambode said that his administration had launched a N25billion Employment Trust Fund, urging them to access the fund.
Governor Ambode while answering questions on future plans of his administration assured that greater attention would be given to the health and education sectors, while empowerment for the youth and elderly would also got the needed attention.
“In the last eight years, while the immediate past Governor actually did a lot to improve on health, you will also see that what he provided is not even enough to cater for all the people coming into Lagos.
“Now, this second year, I can tell you freely that we are facing majorly the health sector, education sector, the issue of elderly people and then the youths. We believe that in the next twelve months which we are starting from now, you will see a major escalation of the quality of the facilities we are going to provide in our hospitals,” the Governor said.