Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola has opined that there is no justification for anyone who trades illegally on the street.
Fashola stated this at a symposium tagged ‘Driving and the Nigerian in you,’ organised by the promoter of Newstrail, Tola Kayode, in Lagos on Thursday.
The Minister’s comment follows an opinion that those who trade on roads are doing so because of poverty.
In his words: “There is nothing wrong with being a trader; there is nothing wrong with being a mechanic, but you cannot undertake a legitimate process or business illegitimately.
“We don’t trade half as much as they do in Europe, but they don’t do it on the highway. It is just a no-no. You won’t see somebody set up a roadside mechanic workshop in London. So, we must stop entertaining or propounding those kinds of arguments. It sounds like ‘because I’m poor, let me break the law.”
He added, “Somebody out there, in the name of ‘what do I do to survive,’ opens a shop on the side of the highway. This constricts everybody. So, a one-hour journey becomes a three-hour journey. You spend more time on the road, become less productive, burn more fuel, become poorer, and waste your disposable income.”
Similarly, the Lagos State Sector Commander, Federal Road Safety Corps, Segun Ogungbemide who also spoke, pointed out that “when the roads are not good, we blame the government. When the roads are fixed, we still blame the government. What is the problem with road users?
“If I have to state why we have issues in Nigeria, I will say we should ask the road users. This includes every other stakeholder and me.
“You will be so embarrassed that a child sees a road traffic manager as an enemy. When his mother is having a phone call while driving, she says, ‘these mad people are here’ when she sees a road traffic manager. She is committing the offence but passing a message to her child that those who bring corrections are mad people. When that child grows up, he sees law enforcement agents as mad people.”
The convener, Kayode said she organised the event due to her passion for the safety of lives and property on the Nigeria road.
Others at the event included the Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation, Dr Fredric Oladeinde; Chief Executive Officer of Safety Beyond Borders, Mr Patrick Adenusi; and General Manager, Lagos Television, Siju Alabi, among others.