There are growing concerns over spread of night markets and roadside traders in parts of Lagos metropolis. The scale of commercial activities in the nation’s commercial centre is such that all manner of business outlets spring up in every nook and cranny.
In most cases, trading activities commence from 7:00p.m. ending at midnight, depending on locations and the goods involved.
At Mushin, Iyana-Ipaja, Cele-Expressway, Ikotun, and Agbado-Ijaye, commuters and motorists experience tough times in the night as traders take over the roads.
When business is in full bloom, traders will be seen and heard shouting on top of their voices or ringing bells to attract attention to their wares. Not even the blaring horns by motorists is enough to keep them off the roads.
Passers-by are not spared the menace as they often step or fall on goods displayed by traders on the road. The situation often lead to fracas between motorists and traders, said a minibus driver, who plies Mushin-Oshodi route.
His claim was confirmed by The Guardian as rowdy session started 7:40 p.m. last Friday at Agege motor road, Mushin. On that route, a group of women with their children took over a greater part of the road, to display their wares, while commuters and passengers got stuck in gridlock.
The experience is the same at the opposite lane, where traders sell meat, frozen fish, vegetables and peppers. This obstructs free movement of vehicles and passers by often express their irritation over the development.
Apart from these women, other petty traders, who hawk packaged water, confectioneries, soft drinks and herbal mixtures struggle for remaining space with pedestrians to advertise their wares.
The situation at Bolade, Oshodi is more worrisome as traders take over the entire stretch linking Ikeja along to the axis.
A commercial motorcyclist, who plies Arena -Egbeda route, lamented the bedlam, which traders cause in the night. According to him, motorists often take alternative routes to avoid the uproar.
Also, Murtala Mohammed International Airport Road, Oshodi, has in recent times become a beehive of activities at night for roadside food vendors and petty traders.
This is common at the 7/8 Bus Stop and Junction Bus Stop along the road. By 6:00p.m., roadside traders troop out in large numbers on the road median to sell their wares, which include, fairly used clothes, handbags and shoes. This continues till 11:00 p.m., when chances of patronage have ebbed.
A resident, Mr. Emmanuel Adeoye, said the traders operate at those hours due to the absence of task force team.
Similarly, vehicular movements in Ojuelegba and Yaba are usually chaotic because of night markets.
Vehicles heading to CMS, Idumota and other adjoining routes are often held in traffic as traders occupy major parts of the road at night. Unlike Mushin and Oshodi, traders sell used phones, clothes, wristwatches and pairs of shoes.
The congestion caused by these traders in this route is unimaginable. Some traders, who spoke to The Guardian, named lack of adequate shops and high cost of available few as reasons for displaying their wares on the roads, not minding the inconveniences and dangers it poses to them and other road users.
A fish seller in Mushin, Iya Biriki, said she and other traders pitch their tents at bus-stops, under the bridges and road sides, especially at nights when law enforcement agents must have closed because they cannot afford to pay for shops.
“We are free from embarrassment of law enforcement agents, landlords or building contractors, although we pay a token to area boys,” chorused Adijat Semiu and Chukwu Ewenrindo.
A source, who jocularly gave her name as ‘Igboro’ (exposed city dweller), said law enforcers also encourage the practice, adding that police officers and area boys regularly extort the traders to allow them secure their illegal trading locations.
It was said that markets boom at night more than in the day, because plenty of workers who get home at nights need to purchase one or two things, particularly the edible.
Some of these traders said night trading, though risky, is less rigorous compared with daytime business. These are in spite of efforts by the Lagos State Government to regulate and curb street trading.
The Government has been in a running battle with street traders, especially those who operate in the night and who often clog up roadsides, thus worsening traffic congestion, which is already a big problem in the state.
In the past, government has tried to tackle the menace by building more markets and lock-up shops. However, many roadside traders have not seized the opportunity, citing high cost of acquiring shops in the city.
Most of the traders lamented about the hike in prices of government owned shops, which they said were beyond the reach of an average petty trader.
However, there are cases where those who display their goods by the roadsides also have shops within the area, but want to take advantage of huge human movement to advance their sales.
Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola recently frowned at roadside traders who hinder free movement of vehicles in Lagos State.
He said that the traders do not only halt traffic in the city, but also contribute to the flooding disaster by throwing wastes on the roads and drainage systems. This, according to him, blocks the drainage systems and causes flooding.