Home » FIWON Condemns Clampdown on Street Traders in Lagos

FIWON Condemns Clampdown on Street Traders in Lagos

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The Federation of Informal Workers’ Organizations of Nigeria (FIWON) hereby condemns in

unequivocal   terms   the new   frenzy   with   which   the   Lagos   Government   is   implementing   the

vexatious 2003 Lagos State Street Trading and Illegal Markets Law. In a press release made available to SECURITY MONITOR by Gbenga Komolafe, FIWON Secretary General, the group noted that  such a

law   since   its   enactment   and   the   gestapo   methods   and   structures   that   were   established   to

implement it among which is the obnoxious Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) Brigade as well as

the Black Maria trucks used to ferry ‘captured’ traders to prison, has been nothing but one long

gross violation of the fundamental rights of Nigerians, to move around freely and earn their

livelihoods. The Black Maria, historically used to ferry hardened criminals has found new use to

transport street vendors abducted by the so called KAI brigades to prisons in Lagos state and

various organization as well as men and women of conscience have found reasons to condemn

this terrible assault on the poor.

The   FIWON   leadership   finds   it   shocking   and   absolutely   reprehensible   that   at   a   time   that

overwhelming   numbers   of   Nigerians   are   groaning   under   a   biting   economic   depression

occasioned by Government’s failure to develop the productive forces of the society through

sensitive investment in critical sectors of the economy including refineries, electricity, roads etc

while leading functionaries of Government at all levels have been fingered in various financial

heists   and   theft   of   public   resources   in   the   magnitude   of   trillions   of   naira,   the   Lagos   state

government would be engaged in acts capable of inflicting more pain on the poor and vulnerable

members of the society. We also find it necessary to emphasize that the 2003 law which is now

being   viciously   implemented   violates   both   international   law   especially   Article   25   of   the

Universal   Declaration   on   Human   Rights   and   Sections   14   and   16   of   the   Nigerian   1999

Constitution. It is also pertinent to note that the 2016 African Regional Meeting on the UN

Habitat 111 which held in Abuja recently under the auspices of the Federal Minister of Housing,

Hon. Babatunde Fashola expressly condemns acts that inflict violence on the rights of the poor to

access public spaces for the purpose of carrying out their legitimate livelihoods. The Meeting

also made far reaching recommendations for equitable and sustainable use of public spaces.

According to Habitat 111 Policy Paper on the Right to the city and Cities for All, Feb. 2016,

“The Right   to   the City envisions   a   socially and   spatially   just   distribution and   planning   of

material resources,   ensuring   good living   conditions across the   human   settlement continuum.

These resources,   accessible   in   both   formal   and   informal   sectors   and   areas,   are   defined   by

acceptable quality standards, and include: public space and the urban commons; investments in

basic infrastructures and   services   (e.g.   water, electricity, waste,   and sanitation);   appropriate,

accessible and   affordable   transportation   options;   appropriate   and   dignified   housing   and

settlements;   equitable livelihoods,   opportunities,   and   decent   jobs,   including   solidarity   and

circular   economy   initiatives; education;   healthcare;   and   investments   in   the   preservation   of

ecosystems   and   biodiversity,   and   in climate   change   protection.   This   pillar   envisions   all

inhabitants, particularly women, as caretakers and as protagonists in the delivery and enjoyment

of these resources for a full life. In this respect, it also requires recognition and specific

measures   targeting   marginalized   groups   (e.g.   young   people, migrants   and   refugees,

informal workers, and the differently abled).”

Finally FIWON wishes to publicly state that often quoted resolve of the Lagos State government

to build a ‘mega city’ while seemingly attractive is actually extremely backward, alienating,

repressive,   insensitive   and   capricious   policy   when   interpreted   to   mean   that   the   poor   and

vulnerable are to be excluded from making use of public spaces to earn meager livelihoods. We

wish to expressly state that even in advanced, developed societies, street vending is not only

allowed but government strives to make inclusive, laws that allow participatory regulation of the

use of   public spaces. For instance, a   2015 government policy on street trading in the U.K.

recommends inter alia that:

? “amending street trading legislation so that undue restrictions on licences for pedlars and

street traders are removed

? removing the requirement for a pedlar to have lived in the area where he or she wants to

operate…”

Commenting on the new policy, the British Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson said:

“Street traders play a vital role in vibrant marketplaces right across the UK. These changes will

ensure that shoppers can have confidence that street traders have undergone proper checks before

trading, while making those checks simple and straightforward.

Street trading stalls are an important part of British culture and offer a great place to shop. We

want a system that is fair for everyone who wants to sell and buy goods.”

Proposed amendments to the British Pedlars Act strives to ensure that –

“The reforms will also remove a requirement for traders to prove that they have lived in an area

they wish to trade in for at least one month. This was not compliant with European law and

restricted enterprise unnecessarily.

The changes will help to reduce barriers to street traders and pedlars by making it easier to trade,

boosting retail and helping small traders – including many young entrepreneurs – to expand and

grow.   (See https://www.gov.uk/government/news/street-trading-and-pedlary-laws-to-be-

modernised   .

Also in India, following a judgment of the Supreme Court of India in 2010 which recognized

street   vending   as   a   source   of   livelihood,   the   Government   of   India   worked   out   a   central

legislation, and a draft of same was unveiled on November 11, 2011. India is the first country to

create and adopt a progressive, centralized legislation relating to street trading.

The Bill has several provisions to protect social security and human rights while delegating some

responsibilities to local decision making bodies. The law represents an important milestone in

recognizing street vendors as important members of the urban economy while guaranteeing then

representation in urban planning processes. (See http://wiego.org/informal_economy_law/street-

vendors-and-law)

If indeed this is a democracy, the enactment of spurious laws to satisfy the hackneyed taste of our

neo-elites in flagrant violation of the constitution must be discontinued. While we concede that

government has a responsibility to regulate the use of public spaces, we also insist such effort at

regulation should strive at positive engagement of all stakeholders while policies and programs

must be inclusive and participatory. FIWON therefore uses this space to call on the Lagos State

Government to:

  1. Abrogate   the   so   called 2003   Lagos   State   Street   Trading   and   Illegal   Markets   Law

immediately.

  1. Commence a genuinely participatory process of drawing up a new public policy that

would regulate the use of public   spaces with   relevant   government   investment in the

creation of easily accessible modern open markets as we have all over the world, simple

neighbourhood markets and sales clusters as well as construction of more side – walks

and setbacks on urban community roads.

  1. Stop forthwith the spate of indescriminate arrests of traders and the use of the inhuman

Black Maria trucks to convey hapless Nigerians whose only crime is to try and survive on

the streets, to jail.

 

 

 

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