As Lagos residents go in search of their daily bread, quite a number earn a living via official means while a myriad of other do so by engaging in petty trading in markets or by the roadside.
This method of earning a living has continued over the years with persons involved in roadside selling often times, depending on their little earnings for survival.
However, things took another turn after the Lagos State Government led by Akinwunmi Ambode announced the ban on street hawking or roadside trading across the state.
The fate of street hawkers and the road side sellers as a result of this development now lies in the hands of the Kick Against Indiscipline Officers who are saddled with ridding the streets of hawkers except for designated spots.
The plight of the concerned street hawkers was also not helped by the passing of a street hawker around the Maryland axis of the state while trying to avoid arrest by the KAI officers.
However, while the street hawkers still find a way of surviving under the difficult conditions, the fire brigade approach adopted by the KAI officers is another thing they worry about on a daily basis.
Any individual who has used popular Lagos roads such as Oshodi, Ojota, Onipanu, Ikorodu, Yaba among others would have witnessed the criminal activities perpetrated by these officials on a daily basis.
The KAI officers act with impunity hiding under the guise of law enforcement.
While commenting on the illicit acts of the KAI officers who were meant to rid the street hawking, a middle aged women, Mrs. Adebisi Orelope who operates around Ikorodu garage narrated her ordeal in the hands of the officers.
“The officers are very notorious and do not have the fear of God at heart. They would come into the market to scatter our goods claiming they are acting on the orders that nobody should sell on the road. Sometimes, they would pack our goods and dump inside the Black Maria. They do these for various people who sell different wares in the market and when we eventually get to beg for mercy, the goods are either returned in half or we get nothing,” she told InsideMainland.
When asked if the market association have taken any steps to address the activities of the KAI officers, she said, “no one can talk to them. They only listen to you when you have money to offer.”
Another resident who preferred anonymity shared his ordeal with InsideMainland. According to him, the KAI officers brutalized him and also detained him in the Black Maria for more than 5 hours before his friends could come bail him.
In his words, “the officers arrested me at Oshodi under bridge when I crossed the expressway around 11 am. I was first accosted by an officer who explained that what I did was illegal. After persuading the officer that I crossed the expressway due to a rush, another officer came from behind to lock my shorts.”
He continued that “I was dragged into the Black Maria where I met roadside sellers and I was made to sit on oranges kept in a tray. After a while, one of the officers told me to start calling my people to prepare money for my bail or I will be taken to jail. I begged that I had nothing on me but they refused to listen.”
“I was with them till twenty minutes past 4 in the evening before my friends whom I had phoned to share my ordeal gathered money to come ail me. I gave the officers N7,500 after they had driven me through Mushin, Onipanu, Ilupeju before they decided to settle at Ikeja under bridge. Before I regained freedom, some of the roadside sellers who couldn’t pay them had agreed to let go of their goods. The KAI officers are made up of street urchins who only use the uniform to commit atrocities,” he added.
It is about time that the government act on the continuous harassment Lagosians face from KAI officers who act with lack of civility in the process of discharging their duties.
Should the officers continue this way, it is only a matter of time before persons hawking for survival turn against the officers which might lead to events that might generate into a melee.