The Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) on Tuesday in Abuja warned that it would henceforth prosecute people who patronise hawkers on the streets.
Mr Uche Agbanusi, a Deputy Director and Head of Enforcement and Monitoring Department of AEPB, made the remark when his team of officials went to arrest hawkers on the Kubwa-Deidei-Zuba Express way, Abuja.
The team also raided the Lugbe axis of the Umaru Yar'Adua Expressway (Airport Road), reports the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Agbanusi said that the hawkers posed a security threat to other road users and constituted nuisance.
He said the AEPB had always endeavoured to keep the hawkers away from the roads but they kept coming back because they knew that people would patronise them.
``Therefore, the only way to stop the menace of street hawking is not only to prosecute sellers but also to prosecute buyers.’’
According to him, the board is putting in place measures to ensure that both sellers and those who patronise them are prosecuted.
``We have been talking to the public to stop patronising hawkers and they are not helping matters. Someone will buy something on the road, eat and throw the dirt on the road, thereby causing pollution.
``Each time we chase hawkers away, they will return because they know they would be patronised. So there is an attraction for the market.
``So we will remove the attraction by enlightening the public using all the possible media to talk to them and to enforce stringent measures such as seriously prosecuting these people who patronise them. too.’’
``We will arrest them too and try them. Then, this will send a signal to the general public that they are not supposed to patronise the people selling their wares on the high ways.’’
Agbanusi said that the arrest of street hawkers was a continuous one, adding that they could not be chased from the streets in a day.
``It is not possible to eliminate hawkers totally in a day because this is a market that is very cheap and very open, the amount required to join the trade is very cheap.
``They are the informal sector people and they can always move into the market with any small item.
``You can imagine someone just buying sachet water with about N100 or N200. It is a market that is already booming.
``So you will continue to see new entrants but we will continue to work out strategies on how we can reduce their number.’’
The deputy director said that about 25 persons had been arrested for hawking while their goods had also been confiscated.
Agbanusi said the confiscated wares would be destroyed to serve as a deterent to others who were nursing the intention to go into hawking.
He said the hawkers would be tried immediately by a mobile court, stating that the law must take its course.