Rise in number of street vendors alarms Church Minister
The rise in the number of street vendors in the Apia Township is a major concern for a the Pastor of a local church in Apia.
Pastor Aumua Eric Poe, of Christian City Church Apia Central, who used to be the Director of Teen Challenge Samoa, has cautioned that the problem could get out of control if something is not done to address the issue.
"There has been a rise in the number of children selling goods on the streets," Aumua said.
"To me, the problem isn't really because of the fact that they sell goods on the streets. However, those children who are being troublemakers in town and are being disrespectful towards members of the public, those are the ones we are most worried about.
"There were incidents in the past that involved street vendors. Not all of them are trouble makers, but there are other vendors, especially the kids who sell products around McDonald's, who are doing this bad habit of causing trouble and showing bad behaviors in town and towards members of the public.
"They are usually not the younger ones, it's always the ones who are now teenagers."
Pastor Aumua said he believes the troublemakers are those street vendors who started selling goods from a very young age who are now young adults.
"We see the young ones out there selling goods at night and day from a very young age, so they were exposed to street life from a very young age.
"Especially those selling goods in front of nightclubs at night time. Now that they have become young adults, it is getting difficult to control their behaviors.
"Starting from the R.S.A. nightclub, you see a lot of them selling fragrance garlands and some of them are usually very impolite and disrespectful towards ladies and people who walk past them.
"The same children you see at R.S.A., McDonald's, and in front of the cinema, they are the ones who are being troublemakers.
"Some of them are not really selling goods, they are just walking around with just one product on their hand, asking people for money.
"They beg for money, and that is how they make money.
"So they are not actually street vendors, but street beggers.
"So what's happening, is that they are being greedy and are starting to force people to give them money if they don't sell all the goods they have.
"It saddens me to see so many young kids walking in town with garlands (ula) at night time in front of nightclubs because they are exposed to swearing, violence, and the nightlife of adults."
Speak about the work of Teen Challenge being run out of the Apia Harvest Centre Church, Aumua said the programme offers rehabilitation programmes for these kids, however, it is only when they become offenders.
But he believes collectively, we can help solve and address the issue and stop it from increasing.
"The thing is, if we really look at it, there are only a few of them who are behaving in such a manner, but nothing can be done to alleviate the problem and to stop these kids from continue doing what they are doing in public places.
"But that is something the government should look at very carefully. Make policies to help avoid this issue and make sure it doesn't continue to rise. We need to implement and enforce those policies.
"The bad thing is if we continue to have this problem and have more children with this behavior, it will become a big problem in the future and it will be hard for us to control and alleviate it. It will then come to a point where we will not know what to do with them.
"I strongly believe we need to address the issue and it needs collective efforts to solve these issues.
"Not just the government, non-governmental organisations, but also the private sector. If we continue to see the rise in the number of kids selling goods on the streets and see them causing troubles and turning out to be violent young adults, it will become a major problem in the future. It is something we should not take lightly."