Occupational Hazards Among Hawkers

Project and Seminar Material for Sociology

Occupational Hazards Among Hawkers


This research project tends to examine Occupational Hazards among Hawkers in Pen Cinema Area of Agege, Lagos State.

Survey design was employed with the use of a well structured questionnaire. Respondents were selected based on simple random sampling technique. Sample size of One Hundred (100) respondents were selected from the staff of 7up Bottling Company Plc.

Three hypotheses were formulated and tested with the use of Chi-Square analysis. The analysis resulted to rejecting all null hypotheses and hence accepting the three alternate hypotheses.

Based on decisions of the tested hypotheses conclusions were reached that; there is significant relationship between occupational hazards and hawking; there is relationship between physical environments in which hawker’s workand lack of proper infrastructure like dean running water. It was recommended that governments adopt a developmental approach to street trading that includes trading sites with secure tenure and infrastructure such as shelter; tables; water and sanitation. Also policy reform in terms of issuing trading permits and developing regulations for renting trading sites is imperative.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

Street hawking, which is the act of selling retail goods directly on busy city streets is a major phenomenon in developing countries. In most African cites the problem is especially acute, and Lagos, the Nigerian commercial capital is no exception. Street hawking arises primarily because of rural-urban migration, unemployment, and the increasing number of school dropouts; It serves as a source of livelihood and in addition, an avenue also, to supplement family income. Rural poor youth moving into the city in search of non-existent jobs fail to find employment because of lack of education and employable skills.

They end up as street hawkers selling wares on major city streets (Asiedu, et al 2008).

Deaths, accidents and infections from the workplace have been contributing immensely to the global mortality rate. Annual death toll from unsafe occupation reported for 2006 was 1.1 million people. The recorded cases of fatalities in the workplace that led to complete disability was about 300,000 out of 250 million while over 160 million people were victims of work-related diseases (Ilo, 2006; WHO, 2006; llo, 2008; WHO, 2010)

Generally, both women and men are found concentrated in certain occupation, face similar conditions at work and experience the same workplace hazards.

In Sub-Saharan Africa region, working women are also traditionally responsible for the household chores. However, both sexes are physically different and women are more sensitive considering their reproductive roles. Gender variations are difficult to specify especially for a low-income economy. The global figures for 2008 show that out of 337 million occupational accidents, 358,000 were confined as fatal, while deaths from occupational related illness were 651,000 (WHO, 2010; ILO, 2006; ILO, 2008; Lu, 2(11). Observation from these data show that there is almost 77 percent increase in death toll from unsafe workplace between 2006 and 2008, 35 percent increase between the same period while the number of fatal accident increased by 19 percent.

Women make up 45% of the employed population in the EU (European Union for Safety and Health at Work, 2012), they constitute about 31.2 percent of Nigeria labour force (Eweama, 2009; National Bureau of Statistics (NBS1 2010). Across the Eastern, Middle, Western and Southern Africa regions, about 37, 25, 22 and 2 percent of girls respectively in age between 10 and 14 were economically active in the year 1990 (ILO, 1990; Bledsoe &Cohen 1993). The proportion in the next older age (15-19 years) was 62, 39, 45 and 29 percent respectively in the same year (ILO, 1990; Bledsoe & Cohen, 1993).

In Nigeria, the proportion of women in labour force is unfavorably compared to the men. A change in this paradigm as currently been driven by gender equality agenda (including equal employment opportunities and support for women enterprises that were enshrined in MDG 3 (UN, 2003; NPC & USAID, 2004; Oyekanmi, 2008; Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor, 2008) can only be successfully achieved with the provision of safe working environment for women.

The concentration of women in micro-enterprises with diverse methods of operations makes it more important to address the gender dimension in health and safety at workplace. Healthy and safe work environments can enhance, and are synonymous with quality jobs and output (Muir, 1974; Alli, 2001). It is envisaged that quality outputs would impact on women’s earnings and might keep them in employment. Thus, attention must be paid to the health and safety of the jobs that women do.

However, men and women are not the same neither is their jobs and the working conditions they are exposed to the same. Likewise, the ways they are treated in the society also differ. These factors can affect the hazards they face at work and the approach that needs to be taken to assess and control them. Women are always at the receiving end of most social and economic hazards (National Population Commission and USAID, 2004) and street trading is not an exception.

“A hawker can be defined as a person who offers goods for sale to the public without having a permanent built-up structure from which to sell” (Asiedu, Ag yei-Mensah, 2008 Pg1). Street hawking exposes the individual to the risk of potential accidents, loss of lives, abuse, reproductive health problems, easy prey to crime and prostitution as well as a number of other social problems. In addition, street hawkers retard national growth because they cannot be taxed to provide revenue for the government, impede traffic, increase travel time and fuel costs thus increasing transportation costs and the average costs of dory business (Davis, 2008). In addition, hawkers operate in unsafe public spaces where they have to man oeuvre between cars and motors to make their living at the risk of losing their lives and at the mercy of the weather, crime amongst other factors.

Street hawking is therefore, a negation of the international convention on the rights of the child. It is indeed inhuman for anyone to engage a child in money­ making venture. Such a child is denied basic education which is another reign of every child. Hence, child labour refers to the ill-treatment of a child by his parents or any other adult. Edu and Edu (2009) describe child abuse as a willful maltreatment of a child. Such maltreatment according to them (In include acts of commission (abuse) and omission (neglect).

A narrow definition of child abuse is limited to life-threatening physical violence, including severe beatings, bums and strangulation which are inflicted on children by the adult members of the community. A broader definition however, lays emphasis on any treatment other than the most favourable care, and includes neglect, sexual or emotional abuse and exploitation. Whichever way, child abuse is the flagrant abuse of children’s God-given and constitution-guaranteed freedom, comfort and peace, by adults in the society.

Therefore, this study examines occupational hazards affecting hawkers along Lagos-Badagry Expressway.

1.2 Statement of Problem

Over the past few decades, employment in the informal sector has risenrapidly in most regions of the developing countries including Nigeria. The reason for this has been the failure of the formal sector, which has traditionally been m important source of employment generation to absorb the multitudes of semi-­skilled and unskilled persons to the city of Lagos State and due to tile weakness of the government and modern private sector to generate adequate employment in recent years.

Street traders face more routine occupational hazards as well. Many must 1ft heavy loads of goods to and from their point of sale each day. The physical environments in which they work typically lack proper infrastructure, such clean running water, toilets, and solid waste removal. Street vendors’ are exposed to physical harm from the improper provision of fire safety equipment and the improper regulation of traffic in commercial areas. They are also exposed to a high concentration of air pollutants and to inclement weather. These physical risks take a particular toll on young children who must accompany their mothers to vend in the streets.

According to Palmer (2007) support for skills development in the informal economy, which is by far the largest destination for school leavers, is virtually non-existent, hence, the most important issue being highlighted in relation to the phenomenon of street hawking is the issue of skills training and development to improve the status of these hawkers and to remove them from the situations they find themselves in being on the street. Despite the benefits of easier access to retail goods that the hawkers provide to drivers, motorists and pedestrians, there are high costs to their presence on the street.

1.3 Research Questions

In this study, attempt will be made to provide answers to the following questions

  1. What are the factors responsible for increase in hawking in pen cinema area, Agege?
  2. Is there any law that safeguard or prevent hawkers from commercial drivers in the traffic in Lagos state?
  3. What are the health challenges or risks hawkers are exposed to?

1.4 Objectives of the Study

This study is primarily aimed at examining occupational hazards among hawkers in pen cinema, Agege. However, the following are the objectives and it is to:

  1. To examine the remote and immediate causes of hawking in pen cinema, Agege.
  2. To examine the various occupational hazard among hawkers in pen cinema, Agege
  3. To find out the availability of environments where hawkers work.
  4. To examine the physical hazard face by the hawker in pen cinema, Agege.
  5. To examine the health implication of hawking on the hawkers in pen cinema, Agege.

1.5 Significance of the Study

The research work was taken up to show the significance of occupational hazards affecting hawkers in Lagos State. In other words, it is expected thatthe study will educate readers on the implication of street trading.

Finally, the results of this study should help scholars, students, health workers, administrators, financial experts, educational planners, decision makers, government agencies and upcoming researchers in the conduct of future research. It will also provide useful information which will enable them useful and positive decisions that will help move forward our economy. This study will also contribute to the existing literature on occupational hazards and child labour.

1.6 Scope and Delimitation of the Study

The area of this study centered occupational hazards among hawkers in Agege. It covers areas like the causes of hawking, the physical environments in which hawkers work. In the same vein, the study covers physical harm from improper regulation of traffic in commercial areas, especially within the stipulated area and how it affects them. It is restricted to the study area only.

The scope of this study is limited to selected study Area. Also, inadequacy of literature has greatly limited me amount of information available to the researcher due to the currency of the research topic.

1.7 Operational Definitions of Terms

The purpose of operational definition of terms is to facilitate an explanation that the reader can fully understand the context in which such words have been used in the study: Example is given below:


For the purpose of this study, hawkers are low-income entrepreneurs mainly found in densely populated urban informal sectors in developing countries.

Street Children:

This refers to any child of school age who is out-of school, lacks basic necessities such as shelter, food, clothing, health-care; services and the love and protection given by a parent or guardian.


This refers to the inability to attain a certain pre-determined minimum level of consumption at which basic needs are assumed to be met.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Summary

This project was set to establish the occupational and prospects of street hawking in Nigeria. The one chapter focused an introduction to problems, definitions of street hawking, classification of street hawking in Nigeria and media of street hawking.

Chapter two which is the second chapter discussed about the literature review related to the research. This chapter focused on street hawking and ethical issues in street hawking.

Furthermore, chapter three present the methodology through which the research was carried out descriptive research methodology was adopted for the purpose of the study by using questionnaire as the respondents that basis for data analysis and discussion for the research in the chapter four using task and simple percentage.

5.2 Conclusion

It has so far been shown that hawking in Lagos has become a source of daily livelihood for several people mostly as a stepping-stone for preparation towards relatively better and more permanent jobs in the future. It has also been seen that hawking is such a popular and widespread economic activity that one does not necessarily have to live in the city centre before one could engage in hawking along the streets.

Based on the objective of describing the nature of street trading activities in the Agege lagos, it can be concluded that most hawkers who were between the ages 20- 24 years usually starts hawking after 7am sells their wares between moving vehicles in traffic and closes after 6pm. Also it can be concluded most hawkers who had been for 1 to 5 years do not owned the items they sold.

From the objective which sought to find out the various categories of street hawkers in Lagos. The following conclusions have been drawn;

  1. Most hawkers commonly sold items such as plantain chips, sachet water, toys, mobile phone credit cards, shoes and sandals.
  2. Hawkers who hawked on full time basis do not do any alternative job apart from hawking and do not belong to any association of hawkers. On the objective of soliciting the opinion of street hawkers on whether street trading impact negatively on the beautification of Lagos or not. The conclusion that could be given is that; Street trading activities and items sold on the street do not cause occupational harzard for hawkers on the street of Lagos.

5.3 Recommendation

Based on the research findings and in order to curb the problems related to street hawking in the Agege lagos, the researcher would like to make the following recommendations.

Firstly, the hawkers should be encouraged and assisted by non-governmental organizations, governmental organizations, and civil societies among others to from more vibrant association that will advocate for their welfare and champion their course.

Secondly, government should tax the hawkers and their contribution must form part of the national income accounting. This is because street hawking forms an integral part of the informal sector and accordingly contributes to the growth of that sector in particular and the entire economy in general.

Thirdly, alternative places must be made available to hawkers to display their wares at affordable price. These places include market stalls, shop or store and containers.

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