By Stanley Onyekwere
Some street traders have taken the larger portion of the pedestrian walk near the popular Berger Bridge roundabout, along the Nnamdi Azikiwe Expressway, in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Peoples Daily reports that every day (especially at morning and evening rush hours) these traders display their various commodities on the spot, in front of a police post directly adjacent the Berger yard, thereby causing a blockade in the area.
Checks revealed that aged women and youths, who formed the majority of the traders, lay siege on the busy spot near the back of the Edo line Transport Company along the road leading to Arab Junction and Utako Market area, to sell their goods.
Apart from the Wuse- Berger roundabout axis, other major streets taken over by the hawkers include Kubwa-Zuba expressway, Abuja- Keffi expressway, Umaru Musa Ya’Adua way, AYA junction and Arab junction.
They throng into the city daily from the suburb areas of Idu- Karmo, Kuchigoro, Dei-Dei, Daki-biu, Gishiri, Utako village, Kubwa, Gwagwalada, Mabuchi, Mpape, Nyanya and Karshi, including some towns in neighbouring states of Niger and Nasarawa, such as Mararaba, Masaka, Madala Suleja towns respectively.
Some of the items being sold by these illegal street traders included beverages, snacks, clothes, mobile phones and accessories, wrist watches, stationeries and shoes etc.
However, some of traders told Peoples Daily that they had remained in the business despite the threat and harassment by officials of the City management agencies and departments, to make ends meet.
Most of them said they indulged in the trade every day, and occasionally are joined by their wards after schools hours and during holidays, as they depend on the business for daily bread for themselves and their families.
One of the traders, who hawk beverages, who simply identified herself as Mama Chichi, said that she relies on the trade to support her family.
According to her, because she cannot afford a shop to carry out the same kind of business, hence the option of trading in the open becomes the more appealing to her.
She said that depending on sales, she makes between N2, 000 to N4, 000 daily as profit.
She however admitted that although, she and her colleagues were aware of the illegality of their trading activities in the area, but they had no better alternative, as “man must survive.”
Similarly, a trader selling Peanut, Mr. Josy Musa, who said she frequents the spot from Masaka area in Neighbouring state of Nasarawa, normally she won’t consider leaving her area to Abuja, to hawk in the city, but for the lucrative nature of the place. She said, in the city she get to sell her commodity at faster at even a higher price unlike her area, where people only want to buy things at a very low price.
“Here in the city (Abuja), people are willingly to pay the price tag on our goods without asking for any reduction, but outside the city they like things that are cheap and plenty in quantity.
“At least I make more money, with which I’m able to cater for myself and children’s education,” she expressed.
Not left out, one Mr. Aliyu Kigoro, a phone accessories seller, told our correspondent that had been engaged in street trading since he moved into the city barely 17 years and that he built a house and got married from profits he made from the trade.
He said he relocated to the spot recently after a friend trading there informed him of the boom in the area.
He added that though the market there is not exactly he had expected as there are tough times in the way, but things are not too bad in terms of profit.
However, some pedestrians who spoke to our correspondence, expressed concern about the situation, urging relevant authorities to recover the walkway, in order to ease human traffic in the area.
They noted that given the recent bomb attacks at public places in the city, trend and continued stay of the traders near the police station as well as other strategic public infrastructures in the area exposes as a soft target for another possible attack by insurgents.
Peoples Daily reports that despite the intensified effort by FCT Administration through the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) to rid the nation’s capital of illegal street traders, corruption and paucity of funds, still remain chief among some of the factors militating against this objective.