People

Inside the world of child hawkers

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Child labour remains a major source of concern in Nigeria, in spite of stiff legislative measures. Child labour is defined as work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children and deprives them opportunities for schooling and development. Child hawkers have continued to increase despite the effort of government at curtailing this development.

Parents scared of finding themselves on the wrong side of the law, reign in their children during the day. However, child hawkers simply come out in the evening and at night when law enforcement officials are scarce.

ENCOMIUM Weekly spoke to some child hawkers about their experience…

TOUN, Orange seller (14 years)

Why are you hawking on the street?

I hawk so as to help my mother, financially.

Do you live with your parents?

Yes.

Do you hawk before going to school or when you come back from school?

No

How much do you make per day?

At least N500.

What are some of the dangers you encounter?

Crossing the road with my goods on my head.

How do you protect yourself from dangers?

I try to be careful on crossing the road.

ADEBISI, Sachet water and soft drinks (16 years)

Why are you hawking on the street?

I need to hawk so as to make a living out of it

Do you live with your parents?

I live with my aunty

Do you hawk before going to school or when you come back from school?

I don’t go to school, I hawk all through the day.

How much do you make per day?

I make close to N2,000 but the profit is around N500.

What are some of the dangers you encounter?

Some people, like the touts wouldn’t want to pay at times.

How do you protect yourself from dangers?

I just leave them (touts). And I try to go home early.

CHIBUIKE IBE, Sausage rolls (9 years)

Why are you hawking?

I hawk because my mother says we need to hawk to survive.

Do you live with your parents?

Yes.

Do you hawk before going to school or when you come back from school?

No, I hawk when I come back from school.

How much do you make per day?

From N800 upwards.

What are some of the dangers you encounter?

I haven’t encountered any danger since I started hawking. But, if I do, the Lord will protect me.

UGOCHI CHUKWUDI, Orange seller (13 years)

Why are you hawking on the street?

I am hawking to assist my mother. She has not been feeling fine and we need to eat. My father supports what I am doing. It is a relief for him too.

Do you live with your parents?

Yes, I do.

Do you hawk before going to school or when you come back from school?

I hawk in the afternoon, after school. I go home to eat and rest before I go hawking.

How much do you make per day?

It depends on the quantity of goods I hawk. Like today, I have oranges worth N1,800. I must finish selling them before going home.

What are some of the dangers you encounter?

Nothing really. I don’t run after moving vehicles when selling. I just walk around and people call me when they want to buy. I also don’t stay out too late. My mother has warned me not to stay beyond 9pm.

How do you protect yourself from danger?

I try not to stay out too late. I move with other children hawking.

OBI OGBONNA, Orange seller (9 years)

Why are you hawking on the street?

I am hawking to help my mother. She sells oranges too. She has a place very close by she displays her own oranges. She doesn’t move around.

Do you live with your parents?

Yes, I live with my mother. My father has moved to the village.

Do you hawk before going to school or when you come back from school?

I go to school in the morning and hawk in the evening.

How much do you make per day?

I make like N800 or N700.

What are some of the dangers you encounter?

They once stole my money. My mother beat me because of it. I am always careful now.

How do you protect yourself from danger?

I don’t stay too long alone, most especially when it is getting dark. I will join my mother and sister, then, we will all go home together.

BASHIRA AHMMED, Pepper seller (8 years)

Why are you hawking on the street?

I am trying to help my mother. She is a pepper seller. She sells in front of our house.

Do you live with your parents?

Yes, I do. My mother is a pepper seller and my father is a plumber.

Do you hawk before going to school or when you come back from school?

I go to school and still hawk.

How much do you make per day?

It depends on the quantity I have and how many rounds I can go. Sometimes, business is so good that I have to go back home for more stuff. Like today, I have N500 worth of pepper and tomatoes.

What are some of the dangers you encounter?

I don’t face any danger. I don’t take routes that are deserted. I try not to go back home late.

How do you protect yourself from danger?

I have friends we move together.

REMI OGUNRINDE, Groundnut seller (10 years)

Why are you hawking on the street?

I am hawking to help my mother. She is the only one taking care of us. We are four and my father is late.

Do you live with your mother?

Yes.

Do you hawk before going to school or when you come back from school?

I am still in primary school. I hawk in the evening.

How much do you make per day?

I always take N1,000 worth of groundnuts every day. I may finish selling at times. Sometimes, I take some back home.

What are some of the dangers you encounter?

Some men may buy and wouldn’t want to pay, especially bus drivers.

How do you protect yourself from danger?

I stopped selling to some of them. At times, I report them to the garage chairman who helps me out.

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