The street traders at the popular Oyingbo market in Ebute Meta, Lagos Mainland, have appealed to the government for affordable shops.
In interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), at the weekend, the traders said they were ready to either rent or lease the shops.
They lamented what they called incessant harassment, seizure and destruction of their goods by the task force.
The traders said they did not like trading on the streets, but were forced to do so by circumstances beyond their control.
A trader in beverages and spices, Mrs Ganiyat Adelabu, said most of them hawked on the road because they could not afford the shops built by the government.
“We have asked the government to build small affordable kiosks for us, which we will pay for monthly or annually as the government desires.
“The shopping complex is not within our reach. To rent or lease one of the shops goes for N1.5 million annually and we cannot afford such.
“If the government can provide us kiosks within the market to pay N10,000 or N20,000 monthly, we are ready to move there.
“No one desires to deface the market, but we earn so little from our trading. We are only able to afford smaller shops,’’ Adelabu said.
A stock fish seller, Mrs. Ngozi Ukah, said most of them did not wish to be on the other side of the law, but had to make ends meet.
She said she was a widow, with bills to pay.
“We have been agitating for the shops to be made affordable for the petty traders, who are working to earn a living, but all to no avail.
“What we have just experienced is that task force officials have been raiding, carting away our goods, our means of livelihood and leaving us with nothing,’’ Ukah said.
A dried fish seller, Mr. Ibrahim Adamu, said most of their seized or destroyed goods were bought with loans taken from banks.
Most of the traders, he said, had not even started paying back the loans, adding that the task force harassment was disturbing.
The task force arrested 15 persons at the market for illegal trading during an enforcement operation to dislodge over 1, 500 trespassers.
The exercise was in continuation of the clampdown on illegal street trading across the state.
Illegal trading, the task force said, had persisted in the metropolis, despite warnings, adding that such would no longer be tolerated because it violates environmental law.
It warned the illegal traders to stop endangering their lives and operate inside the government built ‘’Oyingbo Ultra-Modern Market’’.
Illegal street trading attracts a N90,000 fine or six months jail term under the law.
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Adapted from The Nation