The boys at Computer Village are not smiling. What street corner drug peddlers are to American Hip Hop, the ICT road traders are to Nigeria. They personify hustle. Despite Lagos state governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s decision to enforce the 2003 Street Trading and Illegal Market Prohibition Law, criminalising street trading, with a hefty N90,000 ($300) fine
The boys at Computer Village are not smiling. What street corner drug peddlers are to American Hip Hop, the ICT road traders are to Nigeria. They personify hustle. Despite Lagos state governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s decision to enforce the 2003 Street Trading and Illegal Market Prohibition Law, criminalising street trading, with a hefty N90,000 ($300) fine (or get a six-month jail term) for anyone who patronises them, roadside trading still continues on the streets of West Africa’s largest ICT market (be reminded that there’s a police station right at the centre of Computer Village).
According to a Vanguard report, Chibuzo, a pirated software seller along Oremeji Street off popular Otigba Street, complained that there have been incessant harassments from law enforcement agents and sales have plummeted since the ban.
“But how do you want me to survive? I cannot afford to pay for shop. I do not have the financial strength to do that. I am a father of four. I have to pay bills. Hawking is better than robbery. Government should create an enabling environment for low income earners to thrive. That is the only way to go otherwise there will be more militancies”, he lamented.
Another source, a phone seller in Otigba street in Computer Village described the ban as insensitive.
“Hawking in the street of this market is better than prostitution. The people you see in this street are responsible. Some are married. Some are still single. Some of them have one family responsibility or the other. The government should provide an alternative for the street traders who cannot afford to pay for full shops. But one must survive”, she explained.
By the way, annual rent for a shop on Otigba run well into millions of naira (at least $7,000).
In an interesting twist of views, Public Relations Officer of the Computer and Allied Product Dealers Association of Nigeria (CAPDAN), Mr Godwin Enamor, has stated the obvious that street trading in Computer Village is obstructing movement of goods and persons.
“It is scaring foreign investors. But it is hoped that the market will wear a new look soon as the government plans to provide enabling environment for every business to thrive in the market,” he said.
Well, this is not the first time the Lagos state government will be at loggerheads with guys at Computer Village. The state government has unsuccessfully tried severally to move the whole market away from the residential area it is located. We will see how this pans out…