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Hawkers  selling in wheel barrows decry extortion by urchins

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Lagos, April 29, 2019 Some hawkers that sell their goods in wheel barrows have identified extortions by street urchins and social miscreants as their greatest challenge.

They told the News Agency of Nigeria that the dispositions of the social miscreants popularly called `agbero’ or area boys had made it hard for them to either break even or sustain their businesses.

This group of mobile sellers normally display: yams, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, oranges, pineapples, carrots, cabbages and others in their wheel barrows for sale.

They used to push their `mobile’ shops along the highways and inside streets to sell to prospective buyers who might not have the time to go to markets frequently.

Some of those interviewed in Lagos said, “We service our customers, who by the nature of their jobs are unable to go to the regular markets for their stocks.

“But, the social miscreants usually called `agbero’ or area boys usually extort money from us under fictitious means and this has continued to affect the growth of our businesses.”

They said that the attitudes of the miscreants usually disturbed them because the market values of what they normally displayed for sale were most times below N5,000.

They said that the miscreants would never show pity on them rather they would be ordering them to pay levies for all sorts of unimaginable things.

Mohammed Abubakar, who coordinates those selling goods inside wheel barrows in Surulere area, said that the attitudes of social miscreants were enough threats to send his members out of business.

“Each of us collects a daily N250-mandatory ticket from the social miscreants without anybody explaining to us what it was meant for.

“They also demand that each of us must pay another N200 for dustbin removal daily.’’

Abubakar said that his members used to explain to the miscreants that it was not every time they used to finish selling their wares same day.

He said that when they displayed the left over the following day, the miscreants would still expect them to pay them levies again.

“Such explanations used to fall on deaf ears. What the miscreants are interested in is their levies,’’ he said.

He said that because of that ugly incident, most of his members had resolved to be selling their goods at evenings when majority of those extorting them would have retired from the streets.

Abubakar added that sellers of yams in this category also moved in groups of between five and 10 so that they could do collective bargaining anytime the `agbero’ wanted to extort them.

“Mostly, we buy goods worth between N2,500 and N5,000. Unfortunately, part of the perishable ones among them will have gone bad before we finish selling them.

“We do not sell with much profit; we like to finish selling quickly so that we can buy fresh ones.

“With that, our losses will be minimal, especially, on perishable goods but the urchins do not listen to such explanations,’’ he said.

Also, Lawal Ahmed, said that the miscreants usually come up with different levies anytime they wanted outside the daily levies they used to charge his members.

“The refuse for which they collect money to clear are left untouched for days. We have to engage local waste collectors,’’ he said.

Shaibu Abu told NNN that some of them had wanted to rent shops but the charges were very costly.

“Selling my wares by the wheel barrow is better for me because I will not quarrel with any landlord or care taker over shop rent when it is due.

“I do travel during the planting season for almost half of the year. If I rent a shop, its rent will be running while I am away,’’ he said.

He said that most times, they used to sell to shop owners, residents and those walking on the street.

Abu said that those hawking through wheel barrows used to exert much strength to push them when loaded with goods.

He, however, said that over the years, they had mastered it.

Similarly, Isiaka Awwal told NNN that on a good day when certain goods were scarce or there were high demands for them, they made good profits.

“During the Muslims’ fasting period, we make good profits on fruits because of the high demands,’’ he said.

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