High rents in Nigeria's capital Abuja is pushing many retailers to use the back of their car to sell their goods. Hayley Platt reports on how the so-called boot hawkers are defying city authorities and doing a roaring trade.
Abuja is one of Nigeria's most expensive cities. It's also the capital - built in the 1980s to replace Lagos. The sprawling metropolis is a jewel in Nigeria's crown. But retail rents are way too high for many local businesses. And this is their solution. Vera Idoko is a book hawker, running her business from the back of a car. (SOUNDBITE) (English) VERA IDOKO, HAWKER SAYING: "We prefer selling here because let me just say there is no source of income for paying for a shop right now." Although the practice is illegal, the $25 maximum fine isn't much of a deterrent. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PUREHEART CHUKWU, HAWKER SAYING: "If they stop us from selling around the area we are selling we will move around to another area." The authorities want to crack down. Ayuba Chagwa is facilities manager at Abuja Markets Management. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FACILITY MANAGER, ABUJA MARKETS MANAGEMENT LTD- WUSE MARKET, AYUBA BITRUS CHAGWA, SAYING: "They should find a place that is authorized by law to do their businesses because the government has provided avenues we have plazas, we have markets which are properly managed and secure." But the government-run sites are expensive. Rents can reach 7000 dollars a year, payable in full, in advance. The purpose-built shopping malls are often twice that and not as convenient for shoppers like Emmanuel Soti. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EMMANUEL SOTI, CIVIL SERVANT SAYING: "Most of the time as a working class person it might not be too easy for me to go to the market except maybe on weekends and things like that." Traders are calling on the government to start controlling the spiraling rents. But boot hawkers say they're here to say - and more should be done to support them.