Despite the hardship currently being faced by road users and passengers on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway due to the ongoing construction at Opic and Kara-Isheri which caused gridlock along the route, some highway hawkers are laughing all the way to the bank.
The hawkers who expressed excitement at the traffic on the road stated that they usually made more sales during the traffic.
One of them who is a popcorn seller, Jerry Coker, said he resorted to hawking on the highway because he was unable to raise money to further his education.
He said, “Sales have increased due to gridlock. I don’t like the work but I do it to raise money for my admission into the university or polytechnic. When there is nobody to help me, I have to help myself.
A leather seller, Isabella Israel, said she had been making good sales during the gridlock. She stated that her plan was to get enough money to secure a shop to continue her business.
She said, “Sincerely, traffic is not a good situation for other people especially salary earners but people like us love the whole situation. We are always happy when we see traffic on major roads. In a way we meet the needs of passengers and motorists because some may be hungry and others thirsty without any option. So, we try to give them what they desire at that moment. In fact, most household needs we sell in traffic are cheap and genuine.
“If I should tell you the amount I have made today (Thursday) selling in traffic, you will be surprised. Let me thank God. I want to rent a shop rather than hawking but you know it’s not easy in Nigeria. One thing is getting the rent fee another is the charges by agents. The whole thing is frustrating. I hope to realise enough money from hawking in traffic and in a few months’ time own a shop.’’
Another hawker who is a beverage seller, Desola Olurin, noted that the road congestion encouraged more hawkers to besiege neighbourhoods such as Arepo, Magboro, Warewa and OPIC in the Obafemi-Owode Local Government Area of the Ogun State to continue their business activities on the expressway.
She said, “I love selling in traffic because I always make more sales and the nature of our business is such that the more sales one makes, the more profits one records. I told my three kids to join me to hawk in traffic so that we can make more money. I know that it’s not a good idea but how do we feed ourselves? They used to hawk somewhere else before traffic started building up in that section of the road.”
However, for a bricklayer, Abayomi Adejumo, the traffic deprived him of the opportunity of getting to work early to complete the job contract he got in record time.
Adejumo said, “The road is now busy just after the Long Bridge. To move from Mowe, Ogun State, to work at Magodo, Lagos, is always a difficult task for me especially when I am caught in the traffic. About two or three weeks ago, I lost a job offer because of the traffic. The situation is serious and it does not appear as if the government cares at all.”
In his comment, an airport worker, who identified himself simply as David for security reasons, urged other road users to endure the construction, noting that it was for the benefits of the masses.
David said, “We can’t blame the government for the construction. If they do not do it now, when should they? Yes, people are suffering because of the work ongoing there. Change will always come with some sacrifices to make. We should endure this moment. It is not as if it is convenient for me too but it is what it is. Imagine going to and from Ikeja airport every day in traffic.