If the Lagos State Government fails to take appropriate measures to address the issue of traders and hawkers on the Oshodi-Apapa expressway Mile-2 flyover, there is a risk of utility trucks running over several petty traders, as seen in the previous incident at the Agboju-Festac Second Gate bus stop.
Traders and hawkers, displaying wares on tables and stools, from roasted corn to bread and butter, makeshift restaurants, and fruit sellers, including unauthorised Okada riders’ garage, have turned the ever busy expressway flyover into a thriving market place.
Another spot on the Lagos-Oshodi axis, where these traders are also operating freely is the 2nd Rainbow busstop, three stops away from Mile-2, where they have taken over both the partition walkways right in the middle of the expressway, to display their wares.
These traders and sellers display their wares with careless abandon, not minding whether they could get crushed by the big trucks plying the route at high speed. The traders are largely patronised by workers returning from work who stop over to buy fresh tomatoes, fruits, potatoes, onions, plantains, and other food items, while bus drivers roughly take the one-way route, as if there is no law against that.
A tomato seller who spoke to Vanguard said they are aware of the dangers of selling in the middle of the expressway, but that they have no options, especially because of the economic hardship in the country. She said: “It is better to die here than to go home to face the children crying for food. Not that I don’t know the implications, but the option for me is to do something unimaginable, which I wouldn’t like. Do you expect me to go into prostitution?” the fair, middle-aged woman asked with seriousness.
Meanwhile, the trader revealed that they pay ‘tax’ to area boys to allow them to display their wares. She said: “Every day some of the boys go round to collect money from us, but it is better than not doing anything at all. Sometimes we part with N1,000 daily, but, on a good day, they can collect N500 from you.”
These unauthorised markets on the expressway are alive and run from morning till late in the night, while government environmental officials look the other way. The uncompleted flyover across the expressway at the 2nd Rainbow bus stop serves as shelter to those who could find space underneath, while others spread out along the road with their makeshift tables and stools. Those who could not bear the scorching sun or rain used their umbrellas as shades, as the market continues to grow on a daily basis. Okada riders and Keke operators, with unauthorised parks, are also not left out of the confusion.
A young man who spoke to Vanguard at the spot, said that it has been a miracle that trucks have not crushed the traders. “Every day I drop here to connect to my house in FESTAC town, I feel the mercy of God upon us. Can you imagine how right thinking human beings could display their wares almost in the middle of an expressway and people would patronize them, not minding the inherent dangers? It baffles me,” he said.
On top of the bridge at the Mile-2 axis of the road, the different kinds of products on display include used clothes and shoes, roasted and boiled corn, plantains, and electrical appliances ranging from sockets, adaptors, electric bulbs, phone chargers, and other accessories. There is also another section for liquor satchet drink sellers, who display their alcoholic drinks in basins. These petty traders compete for space with bus drivers, who use the place as loading spots for passengers, as well as turning points, and drive against traffic to Wharf and Tin Can Ports.
A young man who spoke to Vanguard said that what the traders are doing is like begging to be killed. He recalled the accident at Agboju bus stop, some years ago, involving a trailer that lost control and ran into the crowd, crushing several traders. He prayed that the state and Federal governments do something urgently before the worst happens.