Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A green revolution?

These men in green are KAI (Kick Against Indiscipline) officers, who drove by yesterday as I was talking to some vendors in the Ojuelegba neighborhood. Their job is to arrest the traders and confiscate their merchandise, and they have been coming by daily the last couple weeks, according to the vendors. Luckily for them, the vendors had been tipped off by a passing danfo (taxi van) driver that KAI was coming, giving them time to pack up their stuff and run onto private property.

Apparently this kind of warning happens frequently; it's a very interesting collaboration between different players in the informal economy.

Another interesting thing: all the vendors I spoke to yesterday had previously sold inside the huge Tejuosho market, right across the street. It burned to the ground a little over a year ago and is currently being rebuilt. In the meantime, the vendors have nowhere to go except the sidewalk. They had a brief meeting while I was there and talked about going to the KAI headquarters to explain their plight. One of the women collected money from the other vendors for that purpose:

Seeing all those KAI officers crammed into that truck made me wonder if the Nigerian government is dedicating equal resources to catching real criminals. Certainly this kind of story is more damaging to the country's reputation than a million women selling fish or tomatoes by the roadside, no?


  1. This is very reminiscent of a story I just read about New York 'peddlers' and others being cracked down on:


    Global, local? Connections abound . . .

  2. Keep blogging, Sean--you're collecting quite a little documentary project here...

    Have you encountered people who work in other parts of the informal economy, or are you mainly meeting vendors?

  3. Thanks for commenting, both of you!

    Ali, I will check out that article -- thanks for sending.

    Funny you ask, Juhu -- see my post today about the plantain frying factory. Apart from vendors, and the transport guys (bike and van), another very prominent group are the water delivery guys. I will try to blog about them soon.

    And I'm sure I'm missing some other groups. Stay tuned.