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Safety for women traders on busy roads

When living in or visiting crowded urban areas in sub-Saharan Africa, I am always interested in the wide range of (often strange) products being sold at the roadside by petty traders taking advantage of the heavy and stationary traffic. Many of these traders are women, sometimes accompanied by young children, who pace up and down next to the vehicles trying to make a sale. With a sudden change of the traffic lights, traders can be caught, mid-transaction, in the path of frustrated drivers and their vehicles and left precariously stuck between lines of oncoming traffic.

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I have often wondered whether there could be a safer alternative location for these traders to go about their daily work, without foresaking the opportunity to sell to such a captive audience.

How might we make cities safer spaces for communities living and working alongside busy roads?



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Photo of Ian Wilkinson

Hi Nicki

I too have experienced a similar situation in Kenya. In Kenya there are lots of 'Unofficial' truck stops along the main Mombasa road where truckers gather for safety against being hi-jacked. These truck stops are often frequented by women selling as you mentioned.

There is also the other issue of women being pushed into other areas of work at these truck stops raising health issues and there are people working to combat this.

What about setting up a 'Safe Trading' organisation that would look after the women's interests at these truck stops? There is the potential to trade safely without the dangers of being near the road but with added support available. This might take the form of looking after each other and having a trading area where truckers can go and buy goods from the women?

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