Like the ban on Keke in PH after 7pm, the ban on street trading though attractive it’s unsustainable. Every govt of Rivers State since 1999 banned street trading, usually such ban start with great results but soon fail, with the traders returning to the street.
As we speak, Keke is gradually returning to the street after 7pm, with time, it would return fully even though the ban is yet to be lifted.
What these reveal is that new thinking is needed to address the issue, not the norm that failed over the years. And a lazy govt doesn’t have to think, it’ll just look at what had been done in the past and merely repeat them without recourse as to why it didn’t work in the past.
With Rivers topping Nigeria’s unemployment, misery index and violence statistics, we need to look at our peculiarities and proffer peculiar solutions where necessary.
So long as the factors that encourage street trading exist, every attempt at eradicating it would derail and eventually fail. Factors like unemployment, high cost of shop rent, inadequate market spaces, over taxation, absence of soft loans, etc. Street trading takes these challenges off the shoulders of street traders as they do not bother so much about these factors.
That said, what then are these new thinkings that can help resolve this challenge?
- ORGANIZE THE TRADERS:
This trade provides so much employment to thousands of youths. From Aba, to Ikwerre, to Mgbuoba,to Town, nearly all major roads in the city boasts of thousands of these traders. Banning the trade therefore means blocking means of living to these people and their dependents
I suggest that govt engages and organizes them into Cooperatives with the aim of clearly identifying, monitoring and supervising their activities. When govt does this, she would then have the data/statistics of those involved in it
- EXPANSION/IMPROVEMENT OF BUS STOPS:
PH has some very beautiful bus stops constructed by the Amaechi administration. The Wike administration, after organizing these traders, can handover these bus stops to these traders and give them specifications on how to improve/expand to provide for modern makeshift shops for their trade. This way, govt commits very little funds while simultaneously meeting the needs of a huge number of these traders. To recover their monies, the traders should be given an 18-month tax rebate after which the shops revert to the govt
- NEW ROADS SHOULD HAVE SIDE MARKETS:
Going forward, govt should ensure that its road designs make provisions for these shops with their necessary safety measures imbedded to prevent Cars from over running the shops. The shops should be made attractive such that it contributes towards the city’s aesthetics. Imagine that the proposed Rumuokoro & other flyovers have provisions for these shops.
Yes it has never happened anywhere but nothing stops us from thinking outside the box, new thinking can also begin from us.