No to Ban on Street Trading in Lagos
The Campaign for Democratic and Workers' Rights (CDWR) condemns in strong terms the decision by the Akinwumi Ambode-led APC government of Lagos state to ban and criminalize street trading and its patronage. This decision also negates the rights to life and dignity of the mass of workers, poor traders, unemployed youths etc., and their dependents that live on the streets of Lagos and survive either through street-trading or patronage. This reactionary law places a fine of N90, 000, or six months imprisonment on anybody caught in the act of street-trading or patronizing street traders.
This anti-poor decision by the Ambode-led APC government was hinged on the moribund law of the rubber-stamp Lagos State House of Assembly that is ever willing to do the bidding of the executive without giving a thought to the consequences of their actions. Governor Ambode, ostensibly angered by the alleged vandalisation of some BRT buses by irate youth-traders who, on Wednesday 29 June 2016 at the Maryland axis of Ikorodu road, protested the loss of their colleague that was killed by a speeding truck belonging to a bottling company, as he was said to be 'running away from officials of Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) who were arresting street traders on the highway'.
The Nigerian constitution mandates government at all levels to prioritize the welfare of its citizens but the reverse is the case as both federal and state governments have over the years, mounted sustained neo-liberal attacks on citizens through privatization and commercialization of our common wealth, mass sack of workers, unpaid salary and pension arrears, devaluation of the Naira, hike in price of petroleum products etc., while neglecting its core responsibilities to citizens such as providing social welfare, upgrading infrastructures, building affordable houses for the majority, providing uninterrupted electricity, proper funding and affordability of education etc.
Some questions that Ambode and APC should provide answers to as they strive to enforce Section One of the odious 'Street Trading and Illegal Market Prohibition Law 2003' which restricts street trading and hawking within the metropolis are these: What alternative have they provided to street-trading? Have they provided affordable market places for the poor to trade? If the answer is no, then the law has no justification, and must be expunged forthwith from the Laws of Lagos state. In view of the downturn in the economy, trading and hawking remain one of the few fall-back options. The fact of the matter is that street trading and hawking is not a decent economic venture anybody will wish to engage in but for the economic condition that forces people into it, hence, attacking these traders is to add insult to injury.
The CDWR hereby call Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and traders associations and pro-masses organisations to mobilize the mass of workers, youths, traders, students to resist this new wave of disguised attacks on the means of livelihood of millions of poor struggling Nigerians. We call on the street traders/hawkers to organize themselves into associations that can defend their interest as well as resist obnoxious policies without destroying properties.