Hawking on Nigerian highways has become a norm despite effort by government at all levels to combat the menace.  Street or roadside hawking has been one of the social menace confronting Nigerias as a nation. There is hardly any city or town one will go within Nigeria without seeing multitude of street hawkers. Over the years in Nigeria, street hawking or roadside trading has been a source of livelihood to millions of Nigerians. From East West North and Southern parts of the country, streets hawkers could be seen in all the cities and town across the nation. Government at all levels have in one time or another made laws prohibiting street trading or hawking. Some of their arguments were that they deface the aesthetic looks of the cities, cause air and noise pollution as all of them both young and old shout to the loudest of their voices to alert potential customer of the type of goods or products they were selling as well as sometimes engage in one form of social vices or another. Most especially are lives of children street hawkers endangered in auto accidents. Investigations revealed that despite government various laws prohibiting street trading and hawking in the country, the business continues to boom without any sign of abating. It is not uncommon to hear from certain parents that they have trained some of their children from primary to the tertiary institution from street trading and hawking. What could be responsible for this practice as well as its implication to the society?

The increase in hawking both in townships and highways has drawn concerns from citizens. It is regrettable to see teenagers, middle aged men and women and even those that are advanced in age selling wares on Nigerian major roads.  It is not uncommon to see little kids that are supposed to be in school hawking on traffic prone highways in the country such as the Ondo-Ore road, Lagos-Abeokuta expressway, Lagos-Ibadan road and the ever busy Lagos road networks.  Some hawkers are of the believe that the high cost of renting a shop in major cities and the high volumes of sales they make on the streets and highways are some of the reasons people go against the laws. They also have the notion that there is the need to bring wares closer to passerby, motorists and passengers in order to make ends meet. It also seems that nobody wants to pay high amount for shops and sit down all day without making sales. They sell more on the highway than when they stay in their shops.  The effects of hawking on the highway especially in major cities and towns are the traffic gridlocks that abound in these cities. Most times, it is not the bad state of the roads or the queues at various filling stations that cause traffic but hawkers that run across the highways like they own the road.  They do not move away from oncoming vehicles because they believe that the drivers should be human enough to pull brake.  There is an increased risk of physical injuries sustained by the hawkers when they carry their goods on their heads or hands and run after moving vehicles in an attempt to ensure their sales are completed. This in addition contributes to the impediment in the flow of traffic as they flood these major roads and junctions.

A more disturbing implication of highway hawking is that most of the hawkers on the highway are robbers disguising to be trading on the highway but with ulterior motive of robbing unsuspecting motorists and their passengers.  Sometimes most of the highway hawkers act as informants to notorious armed robbers on the highways.  They would approach your car pretending to be hawkers or beggars, while they survey your vehicles to see if you have valuables such as bags, phones, wrist watches and other jewelleries.  They would go and inform robbers who would later attack you in traffic.

Street hawking or vending in developing countries is attracting a rising interest amongst Nigerians due to the various health, social, and economic implications to those who engage in the trade. Developing countries are faced with exponential growth giving rise to rural-urban drift in search of a better means of livelihood.  This in addition, encroaches on the limited resources available in these countries. Families who cannot afford the high cost of house rent are forced to live in urban slums which further expose them to numerous health and environmental hazards, unemployment and poor education. The need to continually provide for the family in the midst of unfriendly conditions has led women, men, youths and children to engage in street hawking activities.

But it is of interest to note that the disadvantages of street hawking definitely out-weigh its advantages. Street hawking irrespective of who (age and sex) engages in it, is associated with major hazards. This includes sexual assault which increases the vulnerability of the hawkers to diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, increased risk of unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortion. Other hazards include physical assaults, mobbing, involvement in road traffic accidents, kidnapping and ritual killings. Street hawking leads to increased exposure to antisocial activities like smoking, drug and alcohol abuse, cultism and crime. Hawkers are exposed to harsh weather conditions, insect and reptile bites and hunger. When children are involved, in addition to these other risks, they are deprived of education and sound health and these constitute child abuse. Street hawking defaces the environment through littering by people who buy the goods sold by the hawkers. This adds to environmental pollution when the available drainages are blocked leading to flooding and increased breeding of vectors especially during the rainy season. The health of residents who live around these areas is jeopardized due to the increased prevalence of communicable diseases. The incidence of street hawking in Nigeria, has been related to the high rates of unemployment, poverty, inflation, poor school performance, unstable families, peer group influence, large family size and poor parental care. Poverty has been given as a major factor for engaging in street hawking due to the need to compensate for the family income. The government is hereby encouraged to find solution to this menace.

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