Lagos is the Centre of Excellence no doubt, and a meeting point for several people from all walks of life with one reason or the other to live in Lagos. Kikelomo Onigbanjo and Odunayo Adeneye of HAPPENINGS MAGAZINE spoke to Mrs. Motunrayo Oyebamiji as she was going about her business, trying to sell her wares, but spared some of her time to speak on her business, life, and challenges as a street hawker:
Happenings Magazine: Personal Details
Motunrayo: My name is Mrs. Motunrayo Oyebamiji. I am from Oyo state. I sell drinks in Obalende car park. I started this business four years ago. I am married with kids.
Happenings Magazine: What prompted you to start this trade?
Motunrayo: It was not my intention to sell drinks in a garage. I was initially selling provisions, cosmetics, creams and soft drinks back in my village in Oyo and business was good. But my shop was robbed twice. I was devastated and I did not know what to do I borrowed some money and came to start over again in Lagos. I just finished refunding the money I borrowed.
Happenings Magazine: Since you started, has business been going up or down?
Motunrayo: (smiles) I wouldn’t lie to you, business has not been encouraging at all. It was a little bit better before but now, it is just going downhill, thanks to this ‘Change’ government. We used to sell a pack of drinks and make a gain of about #200 but now, we only manage to make #100.
Happenings Magazine: Do you want to go back to your former trade?
Motunrayo: My husband and children are at home in Oyo, I have to go back to them. I just came to work a little bit in Lagos so as to raise enough capital to go back home and continue my former trade. I was quite good at it and I was ok before the unfortunate incident that happened.
Happenings Magazine: Have you ever been harassed by Law Enforcement Agents?
Motunrayo: Yes we are always harassed especially by the members of Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI). They are always on our necks running after us every day. For example now, they are already on their way. You can see traders trying to pack their wares ready to flee when they come around. We know what they are doing is for our own good, so that we will not sell on the streets because we are very prone to accidents and they are trying to protect us from that.
Happenings Magazine: How do you feel about the ban on street hawking?
Motunrayo: We are trying to beg them to lift the ban because hawking is nobody’s dream job. We are just doing it to survive. Banning the source of livelihood of a lot of people will not better their lot. That is the reason why I will continue to wake up and come here to hustle for my daily bread. There is no alternative trade I can do. If I knew I wouldn’t be here. I have to send money home to my husband and children.
Happenings Magazine: Do you have any association that regulates your activities?
Motunrayo: No we don’t have. That is the reason why it is very difficult to get to the government to plead with them to lift the ban on street hawking. We do not have any representation of any sort. The NURTW has tried a lot on our behalf, but we are not members of their association so they can only try.
Happenings Magazine: Have you ever had any case of people buying something from you and not paying?
Motunrayo: No. I’ve not seen anything like that. I sell to whoever wants to buy and they pay on the spot.
Happenings Magazine: Have you ever had any accident since you started?
Motunrayo: No I’ve never had any accident.
Happenings Magazine: Tell us about your family
Motunrayo: Well I have a husband and five children. They are in Oyo. Sometimes it gets so lonely here in Lagos and I miss my husband. But I always make out time to go and see them at least once in two months.
Happenings Magazine: Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Motunrayo: I see myself in five years time in a very big shop. I see myself resting and having a lot of attendants. I see myself reunited with my family and living large.
Happenings Magazine: Thank you for your time ma
Motunrayo: You are welcome