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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading and please share your views .

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