By Kingsley Adegboye
It will no longer be business as usual for street traders in Lagos state as the government has declared a total ban on street trading. The government said it will commence immediately, a state-wide enforcement of this ban and other environmental sanitation offences along major highways in the state.
The commissioner for Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello who made the disclosures at a joint briefing with the Ministry of Transportation, declared: “our environment and wide spread abuse by a section of the populace, which is exhibited through bad and un-civilised dispositions like open defecation, urination in open places, street trading, dumping of refuse in drains, patronage of cart pushers will soon become a thing of the past”.
The Commissioner who frowned at the environmental nuisance constituted by street traders and motorists, noted that the state government would no longer compromise the standard of the environment which won for the state the cleanliest city in Nigeria award.
Extolling the feats achieved in the last four years in the areas of the environment, Mr Bello said a lot still needs to be done in order to better the state of the environment in the centre of excellence. Said he: “Our government will not sit by and allow our hard earned gains of the last four years to be eroded by unscrupulous elements with bad environmental habits”.
Lamenting the activities of street traders, he said they have the habits of not only littering the roads and streets with refuse, they degrade the environment and they have also been traced to a lot of robbery incidents in the state. According to him, these street traders “deliberately cut our roads, vandalise walkways and beautification sites”.
While admitting that people must trade to survive and make a living in Lagos, Bello stressed that this must not be at the expense of developmental projects in the state. He stated that those that contravene the law will be taken to court and thereafter punished according to the pronouncements of the court and these punishments will be adequately publicised.
The punishments will not only be imposition of fines and seizure of goods, but also non custodian penalties and punishments like community service which involves washing of public toilets, cutting grass, sweeping roads, cleaning drains and carting away refuse to the dump sites in the full glare of the press.
He further stressed that any car or bus in which refuse is thrown on the streets will be used to convey refuse to dump sites as been prescribed by the magistrate courts. Bello hinted that the government’s decision of banning street trading is for the benefits of all and highlighted the evils of street trading which include selling of fake goods, armed robbery, accident and the likes.
He lamented that indiscriminate dumping of refuse by cart pushers , street traders and buyers is becoming rampant in the metropolis stating that it was undermining government‘s efforts at ensuring a cleaner environment.
He explained that as part of the government’s efforts in curbing the menace of street trading, motorists particularly those that patronise hawkers on highways are advised to desist, as “this administration is set to make the trade unprofitable, as both both the street traders and buyers will be prosecuted under this renewed policy.