Head of Information and Outreach Programmes of the the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB ), Mr Joe Ukairo on Thursday told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, that Commercial s*x work, street begging and trading constituted a social menace and could not be allowed; more so they are prohibited under the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB ) Act of 1997.
Ukairo made the clarification against the background of appeals by hawkers for the provision of alternative location to enable them to conduct their business activities and earn a living.
“There is no sentiment; street begging, trading and prostitution are prohibited under the AEPB Act of 1997 Section 35.
“These are social menace; the Social Development Secretariat has done so much trying to rehabilitate the commercial s*x workers and beggars.
“We arrest and prosecute them and hand them over to the Society Against Prostitution and Child Labour, which takes them to the rehabilitation centres,” he said.
Some of the hawkers, who spoke with NAN, said that the cost of renting shops inside the market led them to hawking. The hawkers said that if given a suitable alternative such as the gardens around the market, they would go off the streets.
One of the hawkers identified as Baba Yusuf, said: “I am speaking the minds of many hawkers selling around here; if we are given these two gardens which are not being used, we will keep them clean and safe.
“We are not outlaws but we don’t have where to sell our goods; we cannot afford shop rents inside the market and must make ends meet so we just have to hawk around the streets.
“If these places mentioned can be given to us or an alternative place, we will surely move out of the streets.”
Speaking on the issue, Ms. Chidinma Nwachukwu who trades in the market said: “If government will succeed in its war against street trading, so many things should be put in place.
“So many things should be put in place to check the menace of street trading; jobs should be provided to reduce this street trading and before you take away what one has, you should provide an alternative.
“To be frank seeing people trade in the street is disgusting but what you do when you don’t have any means to earn a living, you rather engage in trading than turn a beggar.”
Another respondent, Mr Ade Kunle, urged the AEPB to ensure that the two gardens around the market were utilised for the intended purpose, to avoid harbouring unquestionable characters.
“Those gardens are for recreation and relaxation and definitely not for miscreants, drug addicts and loafers; we should be serious with ourselves, please,” Kunle said. (NAN)