Street traders at Alaba International Market have said that high cost of shops inside the market is the main reason they are trading on the road.
Recall that the leadership of the market had in many occasions appealed to the Lagos State government to help them get rid of street traders to ensure free flow of traffic in the market.
But the street traders said that most of the shops in the market are for the rich and not for petty traders like them, pointing out that they go as high as N1 million per annum.
They said that they are not happy that they are trading on the road, but that it is a situation that they could not help since they don’t have any other alternative.
According to them ,if there is a way concession would be given to them with regard to price of shops, they would be ready to leave the roads.
Chike Abali, a mobile phone dealer said that the main reason he is in front of the popular Obosi Plaza is because he cannot afford a shop inside the building.
He noted that street trading is a very risky business because at times vehicles do fail break and run into people ,adding that it is the poor economy of the country that have kept them there.
He said that he is a graduate of a university, but after looking for white collar job and finding none, he got a little money and decided to be retailing mobile phones on the road.
According to him, a lot of those who are occupying shops today started as street traders and from there become shop owners. He said that no right-thinking person wants to be a street trader, saying instead of being vilified the government should pity them and make provisions for their wellbeing.
“Look, I am a graduate of Computer Science ,so, I am not happy that I stand here every day under the sun and rain to do business. It is just because of the type of government that we have in this country. Many of the youths you are seeing on this road are graduates who don’t want to stay at home and be fed by their parents. So, the government should try to do something about the unemployment situation instead of coming here to harass us .In some countries, the government build lock-up shops and give out to traders at discounted rates. But here there is nothing like that. Since, we don’t have money to pay for shops ,they should leave us on the road side that is the one we can afford”.
Ufere Innocent, a CD dealer said that shops in Alaba cost up to N1 million per annum while every thing he has in stock is not up to N20,000.
According to him,at this early state of his business,it would not make sense to look for shop because he cannot afford it.
He said once his business stabilizes, he would look for one.
However,one of the market leaders who does not want his name is print alleged that government is paying lip service to the issue of street trading because it is benefitting from it.
According to him, road side traders pay a certain amount of money to Ojo Local Government on a regular basis.
He said the more the street traders,the better it is for the council, adding that it is only the market that is suffering the congestion of traffics.
“Let me be honest with you, the government will not stop street trading here in Alaba International because it is making a lot of money from it .We have been making this appeal for many years now and they have been promising us that they would do something about it. But I know that it is just politics, ” he said