Cross River state governor, Prof Ben Ayade will on May 27, 2017 sign into law the bill recently passed by the State House of Assembly to regulate hawking and create a Hawking Rights Protection and Regulatory Agency.
The state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mrs. Rosemary Archibong, disclosed this while meeting with heads of various media houses in her office Monday afternoon.
“The governor, Senator Ayade, will, as part of activities marking the 50th anniversary of the state on May 27, 2017 sign into law the bill recently passed by the State Assembly to regulate hawking and create a Hawking Rights Protection and Regulatory Agency, she announced.
The Hawking Right Protection Bill was recently passed by the State House of Assembly and is awaiting the governor’s assent.
The bill, which has been roundly criticized by stakeholders, was sponsored by Hon. Regina Anyogo representing Yala 1 State Constituency in the Cross River State House of Assembly.
In a live radio program monitored by our correspondent, the sponsor of the bill, Hon. Anyone, member representing Yala 1 Constituency said: “The passage of the bill to legalize street hawking in the State is to secure and help the common man to earn a living.”
She further said that, “hawking increases the economy of the state and country and serves as a source of income for the low income earners; the legislature on its part has decided to make it legal so that the hawker in the street can feel secured while exploring his or her means of livelihood. Hawking needs to be legalized because of the State of low income earners in the state.”
The lawmaker therefore pleaded with Cross Riverians, corporate bodies and civil society organizations to support the bill as it means well for the State and for the good of the common man. Though the bill was yet to be sign into law, various agencies of the state are extorting money from hawkers in the streets.
A non-governmental group, Department of Public Transportation (DOPT), was seen arresting hawkers and extorting money from them. Those who could not pay were seen negotiating with the agency on when to pay while their wares were seen in DOPT vehicles taken to unknown destinations.
Presenting the bill to the House, the chairman of the House Committee on Investment Promotions, Industries, Entrepreneurship Development, Public/Private Partnership, Banking and Special Projects Hon Fred Osim representing Ikom 1, disclosed that the bill was aimed at ameliorating the plight of hawkers and allied trades in the state and emphasized that there was; ‘’wisdom in advocating for hawkers’ rights as the lives of practitioners of the trade, often erroneously branded as low level of members of the society can be enhanced or changed if their activities are legalized and their rights protected”
According to Osim, the committee was guided by the goal of making the state an attractive destination for business and increased economic activities adding that; ‘’ the bill aims to create a synergy between production and commerce by providing legal and regulatory framework to legitimize hawking as the tail end of production’’
The Committee further recommended the creation of an agency to be called Hawkers Right Protection and Regulation Agency which will be empowered to enable hawkers carry out their businesses in an atmosphere of legitimacy while equally protecting their rights.
The report further indicates that the Hawkers Right Agency will have a data base of hawkers in the state to enable the activities of hawkers be monitored and regulated while government will be able to offer some assistance to them and described the bill as the first of its kind in Africa but stated that it will only allow adults from 18years and above to hawk their wares at designated places and time while dressed in crested vests.