Trading on the railway tracks has become a normal phenomenon in Port Harcourt and parts of eastern states in the Country. This is in spite of the apparent danger it poses to the lives of the operators. Railway tracks are solely meant for rail coaches.
But this has not been the case, as traders have virtually taken over the tracks, displaying their articles of trade conspicuously. Such areas include the mile one market,Elelenwo rail line, around the Abali Police station in Rivers State and parts of Enugu State.
Articles of trade displayed include items of clothings,fairly used wares[ called okrika], assorted wares, food items, soft drinks, shoes and other domestic goods which are wantomly displayed while cobblers and motorcycle riders are permanently located around these areas.
A careful observation reveals the need for a concerted efforts to be taken and seriously, by various government agencies, to quit them from these locations. This should be so, in other to fostal continouos hit down of some traders who became victims when a moving train ran over them because they were making a last minute effort to clear their goods from the rail tracks as the train approached.
This persistent trading attitude on the railway tracks confirms one conviction.This is the likely huge profit the traders are said to rake in doing business at such locations.
But is it more profitable? was the question Tams Gogo Ibulubo, doing a report for www.rstv22.tv went to town to find out among the traders and requisites officials. To the traders,they are ekeing a living.
Wherever a customer is found is a is good place to do business.Their continual presence at the rail tracks appears to be a result of a spill over effect from the regular market not distant from the railway tracks.The stalls are said to be fully occupied.
They will continue to be there,they said, because they do not have an alternate trading ground. But the railway act stipulates that a fifty metres right of way, on both sides of the rail track, be observed as a matter of policy than a law.
This is expected to be obeyed. However, on a daily basis, the traders are busy carrying out illegal trading activities.The occupation of such area negates, even the law of decency. Used and discarded clothes,cellophane bags and pure water sachets are recklessly thrown in and around the rail tracks.
This poses enormous threat to train operations and aesthetics of the environment. Efforts by the Police to rid these traders seems not to yield any result.There is also a manefest non-challant attitude of the officers enforcing the laws of the land and that of the railway authority.
The Port Harcourt station Manager, Mr. Henry Edward, is of the view that the traders are doing so as law defaulters.The public Relations officers of the Nigeria Railway Corporation, Port Harcourt,Mr. Dasu George, said the organization is doing all in its power to rid the traders from the rail tracks.
He said the traders are illegal squatters who are taking their lives in their own hands.In an event of accident, the traders will be liable to pay the corporation some fine or compensation,he said.
Mrs Ireju Barasua, the image maker for the Rivers State Police Command said trading on the rail tracks is unlawful and warned members of the public stay away from such places and desist trading activities. She explained that though the railway station was not directly under its command ,she reserved the moral right to advise those doing business on the rail tracks to have a rethink.
It is a wonderfully sight to behold the traders when a train approaches as they scapper for safety. As this trading activities continue unabated, one cannot rule out the possibility of a train running over any trader.
It is therefore, inevitable to call on these traders to heed good advise and desist from selling their wares along railway tracks while calling on the regulating officers to rise to the occasion to sanitize the area as well as prevent lose of life.