The Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) says it is arresting more than 200 persons engaged in trading at unauthorised locations in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Mr Muktar Ibrahim, the Head of Information of the board, disclosed this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria on Monday in Abuja.
Ibrahim said that the arrests were made on people operating on pedestrian bridges, walk ways, traffic and undesignated areas within the city.
He said that the monitoring and enforcement department of AEPB in collaboration with some security agencies were able to make the arrests.
According to him, the arrests are in line with the Act that established the AEPB to ensure sanity in FCT and to make the city compete with other first class cities in the world.
“I cannot give you an exact figure out rightly, but I can tell you that on the average over 200 people were being arrested on a daily basis and that is from the record we have all over the city.
“Our operations cover the whole city not just Wuse and Garki, it covers everywhere within the city and our activities are very noticeable.
“So, we have being making arrests on a daily basis and arraigned them at the AEPB mobile courts; at least, there are some measures of sanity within the city centre now.
“This is what we have been doing, it is an ongoing exercise and we are working in collaboration with security agencies such as the Nigeria Security Defence Corp (NSDC) and the Nigeria Police Force, among others,” he said.
According to him, AEPB enforcement department is working round the clock to ensure all pedestrian bridges and walk ways, among others, are kept free from illegal trading activities.
“It has been a big challenge but we are not deterred, our enforcement department has come up with a strategy to tackle this menace.
“The enforcement team now monitors illegal trading and hawking in the morning, afternoon and at night in the FCT.
“So, we are working round the clock to check people that just take open spaces they see and turn them to shops.”
However, he said that some hawkers had bent not to leave some spots or pedestrian bridges in spite of arresting and charging them to the AEPB mobile courts.
“At Area 3 junction, immediately it is 5 p.m, hawkers turn the place to a real market place so it has been a running battle with our men.
“We are also having running battles to clear hawkers and beggars at Area 3 and Area1 pedestrian bridges.
“We are also facing the same problem at Gwarimpa pedestrian bridge and other suburbs in the FCT,’’ he said.
According to him, the 1997 AEPB Act, which is 22 years old now, is outdated and the punishments on the Act against hawkers are ineffective compared to their offences.
“The fine on illegal traders by AEPB mobile court is N1,000 because that is what is in the Act since 1997, so, the law needs to be reviewed with the current reality for us to stop this illegal trading and other activities.
“They derived pleasure in paying peanut whenever they go before our mobile courts, which is why they still go back to the same spots the next day to continue their illegal trading,’’ the spokesman said.
However, he said that the board held a retreat to review its Act and the amendment had been submitted to legal experts for a review, adding that the final draft will be submitted to the National Assembly.
Ibrahim appealed to FCT residents to stop patronising people hawking on the street, pedestrian bridges, in the traffics, as this would discouraged them from operating in such unauthorised palaces.