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Despite Ban, Street Trading Permeates Osun Roads

On a Tuesday afternoon in December 2022, this reporter visited the popular Igbona market at Igbona along Ikirun Road in Osogbo. The gridlock caused by the activities in the market extended from the market to Ajegunle. The Igbona market is one of the weekly main markets in the town, and trading activities at the market reach their peak on Tuesdays, the main market day. Traffic moving from Old Garage onward stadium area was affected by the trading activities of the market, and the other lane was relatively free though the market was on both sides of the two-lane road.

“My brother, this is what we experience every day in this part of the town. It is always worse on Tuesdays like this. It is worst since this is December. There is heavy traffic everywhere,” said Ganiyu Olawale, a commercial driver who was caught in the traffic. Olawale added that he was going to the Ahmadiyyah area of the turn. Still, he would have to take another route since the fastest route to the place is a turning in the market, which trading activities have completely blocked.

Traffic gridlock inside Igbona market

Ineffective Government Bans

On the 24th of August 2022, under the immediate past Governor Gboyega Oyetola, the Osun State Government banned street hawking, trading and roadside display of goods across the state. The ban was a sequel to an attack on the wife of Governor Oyetola at the Owode-Ede market, a daily market barely 5km away from the state secretariat.

“The government has immediately set up a Special Task Force that will ensure compliance with safe conduct in our markets and ensure the safety of road users. It is therefore calling on all traders to comply with this directive as the Task Force team will operate without prior notice, and those arrested will be prosecuted swiftly,” a statement from the then government of Oyetola read in part. However, despite this threat, neither Oyetola nor his successor, Senator Ademola Adeleke’s government, appear to have done anything meaningful to stop the endemic practice across the state, especially in Osogbo.

Street parking at Ajegunle market

Similarly, in April 2016, the Osun State House of Assembly passed the Street Trading and Illegal Markets Prohibition Law. The law sought to prohibit hawking or exposing goods, wares and articles or sale or offering services whether or not from a stationary position in any place or streets in some major towns of the state. The bill also prohibits the extension of hops into walkways, road setbacks and building lines.

It Is A System That Is Widespread

Rafiu Ojoniyi, a market leader, in a chat with this reporter, claimed that street trading is a popular style of trading in Osogbo. “Go from here to Oja-Oba, Oluode, Okefia, Ajegunle, Sasa, and other markets in the town; that is what you will find everywhere. It is a system that is widespread and is practised around here since that is what we have always known. The buyers prefer to buy things on the roadside and continue to their destinations, which is why people prefer to display their wares in open spaces by the roadsides. Even at Orisunmbare, where there are shopping outlets, you still find street trading there.”

Despite empty shops, street trading continues

Taibat Muritala, a market woman at Igbona market, when asked about the frequency of road accidents at the market as a result of the gridlock, said accidents rarely occur at the market since Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) officers were always present on the market days, however, no officer was seen when this reporter visited the market. Just like street hawkers took advantage of the gridlock to sell their wares to motorists and passengers, street urchins and officers of the riders’ park management of the state government also took advantage of the gridlock to extort and sell tickets to motorists and riders.

Like Igbona, Like Ajegunle

A visit to the Ajegunle spare parts market also tells a similar tale of roadside trading and parking obstructing the free flow of movement, most noticeable on the road in the market leading to the UNIOSUN Teaching Hospital. One of the traders in the traders who spoke to this reporter during a visit to the market said the way vehicles were parked on both sides of the road was a norm. “You can see double parking everywhere. They include vehicles of traders and customers. That’s how we ply our trade here, we deal in vehicle spare parts, and this is the biggest spare part market in Osogbo.”

The gridlock caused by market activities

When asked if the congestion caused by the vehicles parked affects ambulances going to the hospital, he answered positively, saying: “It does; no matter how speedily an ambulance may be travelling, once it gets here, it must slow down to navigate its way out.”

Government Reacts

Spokesperson to the Governor, Mallam Rasheed Olawale, when contacted on the plans of the state government to tackle street trading in the state, promised to get back to this reporter. He, however, pointed out that market issues are under local governments.

An officer of Olorunda Local government, when contacted for a reaction on behalf of the local government, said: “It has always been like that even when the initial ban was announced, we didn’t see anything. The street trading didn’t stop at any time. The problem is that the alternatives are [insufficient], and the people themselves are not ready to change. There is a newly completed shopping complex at Old Garage. The complex is empty and locked up while traders are lined up in front. That is the problem. They are not willing to take up the shops; another one is under construction at Oke-Fia. Let’s hope that when those are put to use, the problem will be addressed partly.”

The officer who was granted anonymity because they were not authorised to speak on the matter added that what was found in Osogbo was representative of other parts of the state.

Agberos extorting riders

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