23 September 2017

Nigeria: Can Lagos Stop Trading At Undesignated Spots?

The Lagos State Government is not leaving any stone unturned to achieve its megacity ambition and part of its moves to realise the goal is to make every nook and cranny of the state eye-catching and habitable.

Heading for the accomplishment of the megaproject, the past administration showed zero tolerance for all sorts of unwanted trading activities. In fact, when the former governor Babatunde Fashola launched a crackdown on unlawful trading most especially around Oshodi, it dawned on all that the commercial nerve centre was in for real business.

With the attention and seriousness given the sanitation exercise, one would not have thought that Lagos would wear its old picture again, but that can only be imagined.

It wasn't too long before the renovated and sanitised areas began to wear their old looks.

The present administration was not too quick to look in that direction and when it realised the need to counter the menace, some areas like Oshodi under bridge and railway lines seemed to have been forgotten or perhaps, are no longer restricted to traders.

Away from the flamboyant actions against indiscipline in the state is the question of sustainability which has continued to plague and diminish the targeted accomplishments.

Recently, the state government expressed its anger at the unimpressive state of Agbado Okeodo Market, popularly known as Ileepo market in Abuleegba.

Not disputing the legality of the centre for buying and selling, the Secretary to the State Government, Tunji Bello, frowned at the fact that traders had extended their wares to the road side, thus denying pedestrians and motorists free access.

He cautioned the traders to adjust or have the market sealed off. This directive was effective just for a while. The traders only pretended to be compliant with the appearance of the law enforcement agents; once the agents are out of sight, the restricted roadside was soon turned into a crowded marketplace. In the evenings, Saturdays and Sundays, activities on the roadside continue as though there are no restrictions.

Again, the Ikeja and Ojuelegba flyovers have just got a facelift, and anyone who visits the areas will remember the looks of the facilities soon after Fashola's touch.

As it is, all the traders, including commercial drivers have vanished from the areas which now wear serene and decent looks; a good step which has earned the administration a lot of commendations. The big question is: would this effort and investment be sustained?

Marketplace sampled some traders' opinions on the development.

A yoghurt seller who identified himself as Ndubusi, said, "As long as the government cannot provide alternative and very cheap and subsidised shops that will accommodate traders, it cannot stop street or roadside trading. We all know that the poor are disadvantaged in this country and there are no special arrangements for them. This is the only way we make ends meet and we are being disturbed.

"Now that we have been chased away, tell me, do the authorities expect that we will sit at home and expect manna from heaven? We will definitely look for somewhere to display our wares which government will come again and declare illegal spots.

Again, the government has succeeded in dealing with illegal commercial activities in some parts of the state, whether this effort will be sustained, only time will tell.


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