Effects of hawking on Cameroonian youths


Hawking is the act of carrying goods from place to place for sale.

Upon arrival or departure from Buea mile 17 motor park, Mutengene Roundabout, Hospital roundabout Bamenda, Douala and other towns in Cameroon the things that catch your attention immediately are the shabbily dressed under-aged children, adults and women hawking various kinds of goods. One can always hear their usual outcry as “bread bread, boiled eggs boiled eggs, bitter cola bitter cola bobolo bololo”.

The effects of hawking affect the girl child more than any other group of hawkers in Cameroon. There are negative and positive effects of hawking, the negative effects include;

A) Inadequate time to study:
For those children that are in school already, their guardians always sent them to hawk before going to school and after school hours, they have to wake up very early and sleep late, this negatively affects their psychology, creates room for less seriousness and lack of interest in school work, difficulty in learning and thereby underachieving as a pupil/student that would eventually lead to dropping out of school even before having the basic education and this in the long run is detrimental to the society, only a few of these children can withstand the stress of this practice.

B) Risk of accident:
Hawking in the busy street where vehicles and motor bikes run high speed would expose a child to the danger of automobile accidents, and they also risk being kidnapped for rituals and human trafficking, if it’s a girl child she could end up being sold out to the child prostituting.

C) Sexual abuse:
This is one of the common challenge a child face while hawking. This is because in addition to the stress of hawking and trying to cope with school, she is also exposed to all forms of abuse while on the street, bandits take advantage of her situation to rape and assault them, this could lead to unwanted pregnancies and contacting of sexually transmitted diseases and even emotional torture. For example, the case in Eseka in the centre region of Cameroon where an eleven-year
old girl was raped by a motor bike rider on the 15th July 2018 in broad daylight. This child happens to be hawking what is locally called “fulerri”.
There are laws in place that should protect children from this practice but the problem is the law is not enforced. Parents and guardians are even unaware of the dangers they expose their wards and children to and the fact that they are breaking the law by doing such. There are little or no sensitization orientations to this effect. The government’s approach to this menace is lackluster and these children are left to the mercy of their fate.
The world needs to speak out on this, relevant international bodies like UNICEF have a part to play to impress and put pressure on these governments to take serious action to protect children from being exposed to the dangers of street hawking.

D) Traffic congestions:
The risks attached to street trading are quite high. The person that is hawking on the road is exposed to danger of being hit by a moving vehicle. Also, street hawking poses a risk to other road users. A driver may end up hitting another vehicle in the process of avoiding hawkers running after a moving vehicle to catch up with a customer.

E) Sale of bad or expired goods; A lot of stolen, bad and expired products are being sold in traffic and road sides. Even if the customer discovers, it must have been too late. It is difficult to trace hawkers to any specific address. Therefore, customers are always at the risk of buying fake goods losing their money and the product at the same time.

F) Fall in tax revenue to the government, moving from one street to another trading is an informal sector of an economy. Generally, hawkers don’t pay taxes. It is very difficult for the Government to track hawkers to tax them in their business activities since they do not have any specific point where they set up their business. Most of them too are living hand to mouth so they don’t account somewhere that the Government can track them.


Even though the disadvantages of hawking are so alarming especially the girl child and generally on all hawkers, that may even need to be regularize be the state, there are equally some advantages as far as hawking

business is a concern which cannot be underestimated. These will be outlined below.


Positive effects of hawking


A) It is less costly to start any hawking business;
The government of Cameroon encourages entrepreneurship but unfortunately our youths who are willing to start a business find it difficult to raise the initial capital. The cost of renting a shop alone is so high that an average budding entrepreneur cannot afford to rent one. Some documents needed to be formalized before starting which took a lot of time. Therefore, instead of doing nothing as a lack of funds as the reason for not doing anything, some of these street-smart individuals consider street hawking as an option. This has worked for many of them. Some of the shop owners today started their businesses through street hawking. Had it been they didn’t start at all, they wouldn’t have been where they are today. The money they would have tied down in renting a shop and not being able to buy inventories were used for the purchase of low cost inventories. Since these people enjoy quick turn-over, it is easy for street hawkers to quickly sell, make profit and replenish their stocks. With street hawking, it is easy to start with little capital and with little inventory.


C)Street hawking equips our youths with entrepreneurship skills:
If you want to see how people hustle to earn their living, just go to towns like BUEA, DOUALA BAMENDA YAOUNDE and other towns of Cameroon at main roads street. You will see how young boys and girls are running after vehicles to make a sale, they learn and know how to strategically position themselves in a place where they can easily make sales. Also, they know their target customers. When you see a person selling bread, before you know what is happening, another person selling drinks will approach you. At their young age, they know how to manage working capital so that they will not just remain in the business; they make savings that will help them secure their own shops.


D)Street hawking reduces crimes:
The fact that these young men and women are engaged in productive activities, they are less susceptible to crimes. As the saying goes, an idle man is the devil’s workshop. In fact, this is my major concern about the banning of street hawking. It is not that I totally support street hawking. But with the current level of unemployment in the country, we may need to do whatever we can to encourage entrepreneurship. If those people who are willing to work are now being pushed out from their means of livelihood, this will heighten the pressure that is already on ground. And this may not help our economy.


E) Street hawking reduces inflation:
Although street hawkers may seem insignificant when compared with the level of activities that take place within our economy, they still influence the pricing of some consumer goods. With street trading, you don’t have any overheads to pass to the customers. Therefore, street traders can afford to sell their merchandise at cheap prices. This provides options for customers. The fact that sellers in the markets are aware of these street sellers, they are forced to bring down their prices so that customers will not turn to buying  from street hawkers. You can virtually buy almost everything while on traffic on your way home from work.


Thanks for reading and please share your views .

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