By OKECHUKWU PEACE
Being an ex-hawker, Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade has forwarded a Hawkers’ Right Bill to the House of Assembly that will protect the rights of street hawkers in the state.
According to Governor Ayade, any decision to ban hawking amounted to infringement of the rights of the hawker.
Some of the states who have recently banned street-trading include Lagos, Ekiti and Abia States.
Ayade, who disclosed this on Thursday during a quarterly interaction with journalists in Calabar, said it was insensitive for any state government to ban hawking without providing an alternative.
Ayade said, “I have just sent the Hawkers’ Right Bill to the House of Assembly, to provide a right for hawking. You cannot tell a man not to sell his goods because he does not have money to rent a store. And you tell the man not to steal?
“Just provide a regulatory framework. There should be reflective outfits and there should be a minimum age of 18 to hawk. You will have a time frame when you come out so that you don’t constitute nuisance.
“But to prohibit hawking is to tell a man, ‘I don’t want to give you food and I want you to steal. It is unfair.
“The supremacy of government does not allow it to know the agony of the down trodden which is why hawking is being prohibited and hawkers subjected to merciless whips at all times by law enforcement agents. “Why must we deny a man or woman the right to earn a living simply because he or she does not have money to rent a shop? “Hawking is an African thing and we cannot shy away from the fact that at some point in our lives, we have been at our lowest levels. Personally, I have hawked before,” he said.
“It is unheard off, that a tourism state will encourage hawking but I assure you that we will by this new bill modernize hawking and make it more attractive in a manner that many will take to it even for leisure.”
While charging the legislatures not to relent in making laws that will impact on the lives of the common man, Ayade lauded the 8th assembly for passing 23 bills into law in less than two years. He promised to reward anyone who will promote laws that are not only in tandem with his vision but impact on the citizenry.