The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Rivers State Council, has called on the Rivers State Task Force on Street Trading and Illegal Motor Parks to exclude newspaper vendors from street trading restriction in the state.
The Union noted with dismay that the Bright Amaewhule led task force which commenced operations last two weeks has been harassing newspaper vendors on the streets.
The NUJ, in a statement signed by its Chairman and Secretary, Stanley Job Stanley and Ike Wigodo respectively, contended that newspaper vendors, going by universal standard, are usually excluded from any form of restrictions on the streets.
The Union said that in view of the modus operandi of newspaper vendors across the world, they were not supposed to be affected by the ongoing war against street trading and illegal motor parks in the state.
According to the statement, "All over the world, newspaper vendors are an important agent of information dissemination that can not be hounded out of the street. Even though their modus operandi is to hawk newspapers on the streets, they are not roadside traders and so can not be treated as such.
"We are not against the maintenance of law and order in Rivers State. In fact, we welcome any move by the state government to restore sanity and orderliness to the state and return Port Harcourt in particular to its Garden City status.
"As a professional body made up of decent men and women, NUJ has always been in the vanguard of speaking against indecency, disorderliness and illegal business transactions on the streets".
The NUJ, therefore, appealed to the state government, especially the task force on street trading to exclude newspaper vendors from the list of those to be hounded out of the streets.
While commending the National Association Of Print Media Sales Representative ( NAPMSR), Rivers State chapter, for their patience, the NUJ urged them to be orderly and law abiding in the course of their operation.