By Dennis Agbo
ENUGU- Residents of Enugu State have expressed worry over the level of disobedience of road traffic rules by motorists as well as street trading, particularly in the metropolis. The residents are also worried over alleged numerous police checks points, particularly in the state capital, which they said is aimed at extorting money from commercial vehicle operators.
But the state Police Public Relations Officer, Ebere Amaraizu, said: “We don’t operate road block system or check points in the state but stop and search system through visibility policing aimed at preventing crime and apprehending offenders.”
They expressed regrets that virtually all the streets and walkways in Enugu metropolis have been taken over by defiant street hawkers, causing obstruction for pedestrians as well as constituting environmental problems. The street traders who hawk different wares are most conspicuous along the Okpara Avenue, Market Road, (Holy Ghost/Old Park area), Nike roads and most adjoining streets particularly around Texaco area in Abakpa.
The other affected reas include Salvage Crescent/Park Avenue, GRA; IMT Bus Stop, Agbani Road and several other streets in the metropolis. Pedestrians who spoke to South East Voice complained that they can no longer find their ways through the streets as they were being forced to use autoways which put them in danger of struggling for space with both private and commercial vehicles.
A Pedestrian, Obi Uzoagbado, complained that most of the drains had been blocked by refuse from traders and hawkers, thereby obstructing water channels and causing erosion.
This was even as some of the hawkers blamed their action on poverty. One of them who simply identified himself as Ugochukwu said it was because of lack of money to rent a shop that made him hawk his compact discs on the streets.
Lack of patronage in the markets
But the Chairman of Aria Market Traders Association, Chief Gabriel Ani, noted that even those who have shops inside the market had abandoned them and now display their wares along the roads for lack of patronage in the markets. Ani noted that half of the market shops were not occupied and called for stringent measures by the government to enforce the ban on street trading.
The Public Relations Officer of Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority, ECTDA, Amaka Uchennaeze, said the agency usually chased the hawkers away but that they always came back.
Worried by the high rate at which street trading was fast spreading and becoming a norm in the metropolis, the state government in 2016 issued warning to traders who had converted major roads and streets in the State into shops to vacate the areas or face forceful eviction.
State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Sam Ogbu-Nwobodo, in company of the three council chairmen within the Enugu metropolis and the President of Enugu Traders’ Association, among others, carried an on the spot assessment of the level of incursion into the roads by traders last week.
The team noted that Abakpa was the worst hit as almost all the streets within the market area had been turned to open shops; blocking them completely against traffic.