Fashola is no friend of street trading and this is why

The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, SAN, has said it is wrong for anyone to undertake legitimate business illegitimately, all in trying to survive – there is no excuse for anyone to engage in illegal trading on the street, he says.

Fashola made his position known at a symposium tagged ‘Driving and the Nigerian in you,’ organised by the promoter of Newstrail, Tola Kayode, in Lagos on Thursday.

He was reacting to an opinion that those who trade on roads are doing so because of poverty.

The minister said, “There is nothing wrong with being a trader; there is nothing wrong with being a mechanic, but you cannot undertake a legitimate process or business illegitimately.

“We don’t trade half as much as they do in Europe, but they don’t do it on the highway. It is just a no-no. You won’t see somebody set up a roadside mechanic workshop in London. So, we must stop entertaining or propounding those kinds of arguments. It sounds like ‘because I’m poor, let me break the law.”

The minister added, “Somebody out there, in the name of ‘what do I do to survive,’ opens a shop on the side of the highway. This constricts everybody. So, a one-hour journey becomes a three-hour journey. You spend more time on the road, become less productive, burn more fuel, become poorer, and waste your disposable income.”

Why street trading thrives? – Lagos as a case study

Street trading in Lagos has continued despite measures put in place or policies formulated by successive administrations.

At different times, the Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) Brigade, an outfit under the Lagos Environmental Sanitation Corps (LAGESC), was, among other things, set up to ensure the general cleanliness of the state, and to prevent the cooking and selling of food along roads/sidewalks, has carted away illegally displayed wares and food items worth millions of naira, but the traders have not stopped.

And, there are different reasons, including poverty, high cost of renting shops, high cost of living, among other reasons. If the government should be looking at ways to end or reduce poverty. That’s a start.

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