ENVIRONMENTAL TASK FORCE RAIDS TRADERS IN LAGOS
Tears flowed freely at the popular Cele Bus Stop on the Oshodi - Apapa Expressway yesterday, as men of the Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences Enforcement Unit raided street traders.
The team, which came in a convoy of buses and Black Maria, with a detachment of policemen and men of the Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) brigade, impounded the wares of the traders, including fruits, meat, electrical gadgets as well as buses said to have been parked illegally by the roadside.
The leader of the team, who refused to be identified, decried the misuse of the environment by the traders and bus drivers.
Said he: 'They want to turn this place into another Oshodi and we don't want that. Look at the beautiful garden the governor constructed here but drivers and commercial motorcyclists (okada) want to turn it into a motor park whereas they have a park down there; we won't allow that.'
Some of the traders, mostly women, stripped themselves half-naked, rolling on the ground, wailing and pleading for mercy even though none of them was arrested.
A police officer, a member of the raiding team said his duty was to stand there and ensure that none of the traders removed anything.
Asked if he was not moved by the piteous sight of the wailing women and what would become of the confiscated items, the highly temperamental team leader ordered the police to throw The Sun reporter into their Black Maria for asking too many questions and disturbing him.
One of them explained that they were used to the tears, adding that the traders would always come back even if they were let off. He did not accept the excuse that perhaps the traders were forced into street trading because of the state of the economy and inability to rent shops elsewhere.
'Even the governor knows that the economy is hard; we are just doing our job.'
One of the traders bemoaned her fate, lamenting, 'I am finished. Where will I start from; where do I go from here?'
Another trader, a man, accused men of the environmental enforcement unit of corruption, saying they would share the impounded items among themselves or sell them off.