Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), which is saddled with the responsibility of making sure the goal of having a beautiful Capital city, free from hawking and begging has been battling with delivering on this mandate.
It is not uncommon to ran into many petty street traders and beggars carrying out their activities on major bust stops, interjections, road corridors and pedestrians bridges across Abuja, The Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Primarily, the Board is charged with ensuring a sustainable development and proper management of the nation’s capital environment for an optimal health of the people, in line with Abuja master plan.
But, it appears that efforts by the FCT Administration through the Board towards achieving a sustainable environment in the city especially relating to cracking down activities of hawkers and beggars in city centre, as part of its quest to clean up Abuja, have not yielded anything close to desired end.
However, some residents in the Federal Capital Territory have proffer solutions on how AEPB can effectively tackle the menace of hawkers and beggars , so as to actualize the Abuja master plan According to a resident in Wuse ,Mr. Ohinoyi Yubuka,” if the hawkers are adamant to leave the streets the raiding should be more often, more anti-hawking posters should be placed along the streets, boldly in the three major languages we have in Nigeria, to enable the beggars and hawkers to understand the message very clearly, which hitherto they seemed not to do .
“The raid exercise should no longer be an interval campaign that will start this week and in the next 6 weeks, it ends there. Then, the hawkers will reinforce and come back on the street again.
He continued: “One common thing about this hawkers and beggars is that they too know that the Task force are just intimating them and vandalizing their properties for a while and after some time the tempo is not sustained and the continuity is not there by their different administrations of the Board .”
“If you come to Banex Junction, you will see these taunts and miscreants smoking hemp with some of the Task force workers , so how can they crack down on the same hawkers and beggars when there is no discipline among them who they are recruiting for such jobs.”.
Another resident, Helen Ibrahim, who noted that there should be intensive monitoring in district by district , said “for instance Wuse is big ,you will see task force in only one vehicles moving around ,it is not effective at all ,there should be more logistics for the staff to deliver while on duty.”
She added that the Board should map up areas where hawkers normally stand even before the resume and flood the streets with their activities.
They (AEPB authorities) should position their staff and police men around every districts in the FCT ,the hawker will be afraid , this will also be an effective method ,while mapping out new areas and creating market for them in areas within the FCT that are dormant ,because they too have to survive by making life meaningful and also taxing them small amount of money.
Similarly, Mr. Gyang Dakwo , another thing is that AEPB need to sensitize their workers on the modality and reasons why the Board is going for the campaign ,there should be a reorganization of the staff.
“For example, some of the Task force workers are friends to the hawkers, they relate so well with them, they even pay some of them, including police men that usually participate in the exercise periodically, and they give them information on days in which the exercise will commence.
“In sustaining a campaign, the board has to check their resources and logistics, just like Lagos state they usually sustained the tempo of their campaigns, and the AEPB can maintain that culture only, if there is good supervisors that checkmate the activities of members of the task force,” he emphasised
He however noted that although many administrations have started implementing some of the recommendations, but the major thing is its sustainability.
“ For AEPB to curb this unending menace of hawkers and beggars in the FCT, all hands must be on deck, in collaboration with traders unions in the FCT to have a workshop for the hawkers telling them the dangers that comes with street hawking, as this will go way to reduce the menace.
“But not that the board will be chasing them hawkers in Utako today the next day they will be seen in Area 1,the real problem is not maintaining the tempo.
“ But the board cannot be everywhere at the same time ,because they are not invisible ,building discipline minded workers that will not collect bribe ,even when there are no supervisors monitoring them, they will only focus on doing a good job ,because the spirit have been instilled in them,” a resident, Dahiru Alkail, said.
Not left out, Mrs. Magdalene, a resident in Durumi , Apo said ,” Although the beggars in the FCT slow down traffic on the roads, Taking them to orphanages and social development does not making sense to me, because they would escaped again and return back to the street and continue their activities. “
“Does government help those orphanages with funding to take of those destitute that AEPB usually said they should take them there. How much capacity do those social institutions have to sustain those destitute?
“They should give them vocational skills, and thereafter equipped them, and returned them to their various states and link them up with social welfares offices for monitoring.
“On hawking, we see some hawkers hiding their products in shopping malls close to them , but if checked and cross checked over and over again, this will stop,” she said.
It would be recalled that AEPB in collaboration with the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC) last week carried out major raids on some street hawkers operating around Barnex Plaza and some streets in Wuse 2, as well as other environs of Abuja.
The exercise, which was part of the Board’s monthly sanitation programme, as part of its efforts towards to promoting a sustainable environment and city management, specifically targeted , at ridding the FCT of illegal traders and food vendors operating in restricted areas in the city.