onsdag 25. februar 2009

Law and order in Lagos

The population is informed of new laws and stronger enforcement of existing laws by several media. This is from one of the local newspapers yesterday.

In Lagos there are many beggars and they slow down the traffic. There have been signs posted with "No begging" but there will be people begging next to the sign. No several of the most busy roads are off limit for the beggars, and it is also illegal to give money to them. So now I would risk one month in the local jail for giving money to children begging in the street.

It is hard to understand the need for these laws if you have not been here. While we drive in the traffic I am worried that some children begging will be hit and killed by the passing cars and motorbikes. The traffic is so crowded and the beggars are not aware of their security risk. If they get eye contact with a passanger they just rush out into the traffic in the hope of getting some money.

If you are hanging around a shopping centre or a central road you can risk 3 months to one year in prison if you can not document why yiou are there and what you do for a living.
The streets and open areas of Lagos are often littered with empty plastic bags, bottles, paper etc and there is a sanitation day once a month where people try to clean up the mess. Now there is a fine for littering, I just hope that the authorities will innstall trash cans of one sort or another for people to dispose of their garbage.
As I have mentioned on my blog before, there is as far as I know no puplic restrooms. We see people urinating against walls, sitting on the edge of the bridge "defecating" into the lagoon or from the walkways into the open sewer systems. I guess this will still be a problem except for the Central business district of Lagos.

Due to the unemployment rate and extreme poverty people are setting up their small one-man-business along the road, where they can reach customers with hteir services. You will find people taking passport photos, fixing motorbikes, sewing clothes, cooking a meal and sell flowers and drinks along the roads. They will now have to do this without any shade to protect them from the sun, or to advertise their business from.

It is a difficult issue, since I do understand that the authorities try to do something with the problem. My question is - Is this the way to solve the problem?

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