Lagos street trader crackdown 'will make poor poorer'

Lagos street scene Image copyright AFP/Getty Images

Lagos, the largest city of Nigeria, is known, among other things, for its thriving and chaotic street trade. Road side vendors of all types have been among the icons of the African city.

So the recent announcement by the Governor of Lagos state, Akinwunmi Ambode that he intended to arrest and jail street hawkers has been met with anger and disbelief.

The crackdown on illegal street hawkers is actually not the result of a new legislative initiative. The governor has just decided to enforce the Lagos State Street Trading and Illegal Market Prohibition Law 2003. The motivation seems to be reduce traffic congestion supposedly caused by street hawkers interacting with drivers.

The governor was reported as saying: " The issue is we need to enforce our laws because we already have a law in respect of that and then there is a clause in it which says the buyer and the seller are both liable and that we are going to fine them either N90, 000 or a six month jail term."

However, his campaign has been perceived by some as an unfair attack on the many citizens of Lagos who make their living via selling petty goods in the streets.

The hashtag #LagosHawkersPolicy was started and has since been used more than 3,000 times. Some argued, that the governor was determined to make the "poor poorer".

Image copyright Twitter/XANTAPLUS
Image caption "Make poor poorer"

Others insisted that street trade was the only way for some Nigerians to make a living, and that many families relied on hawking as the sole source of income.

Image copyright Twitter/tunazki
Image caption Family trade
Image copyright Twitter/Gadtech_Uche
Image caption Many rely on street trade

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Image copyright Twitter/
Image caption Hawking as only option

Some on social media pointed out that when campaigning for his post in January 2015, Akinwunmi Ambode had a different opinion on street vendors. People dug out photos taken during his election campaign, where he is apparently pictured buying boli, a local snack, from a street stall in Lagos State.

Image copyright Twitter/Ceorhemz
Image caption Busted!

People went on to accuse the now governor of hypocrisy, pointing out that the election does change people after all.

Image copyright Twitter/Ron_daywalker
Image caption During and after election

Blog by Dmytro Zotsenko

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