The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) has once again swung its rod of power releasing a massive decongestion exercise―leaving some parts of the metropolis free of traders and hawkers situated at unauthorised areas.
Business centres with energetic vehicular and human traffic have also seen a relieve but the affected traders grabble with this reality as they lose their sources of income.
The PUBLISHER’s visit to some of these areas garnered the frustrations of some of the affected traders.
According to Lucas, a 41-year-old parent, his trade along the SIC mall in Accra, is what puts food on the table and he still does not know how his family would survive the coming days.
“They could have been more considerate…schools are reopening and we need to gather money for fees, books and other things…it is going to hard. It has really worried me,” he said.
In the views of Sophie who sells ladies head gears around the Rawlings park in Accra, said she would hawk with her wares if she does not find a place to settle.
“…is this how they plan to pay us back after voting them into power? How do they expect us to feed or take care of our homes?” Sophie the mother of two asked.
Don’t Leave Traders Stranded
Meanwhile, the Head of the Local Government Institute, Dr. Eric Oduro Osae though pleased with the decongestion exercise has made a case for the affected traders.
According to him, inasmuch as the decongestion exercise is a prerequisite for the reorganisation of large cities and business centres, government must find an alternative way of getting the traders to do business in the various markets.
“Let’s work towards planting new markets, work towards getting them to go into the markets… so that it will not look as if they have been thrown out or sacked to go and regroup again, which becomes another problem for the authority,” he noted.
Dr Osae highlighted the need to educate the general public on benefits of the exercise adding that, all Ghanaians must get involved to ensure that we all benefit from the good intent of the exercise.
He said, “It should not be a nine-days wonder…get these people off the pavement so they go into the main markets…we should not patronise the goods and services of these people who sell in unauthorised areas…if people are selling on the streets they can be knocked down by vehicles…when it is a pedestrian walkway and you occupy there, people cannot walk.”
Affected Traders Abused by Task Force
During the PUBLISHER’s visit to the Makola market, we bummed into one of the AMA task forces beating up a trader who had decided to peddle his wares in a wheel barrow after the decongestion exercise.
Some traders within the Accra business centre were seen kneeling and begging task force members for forcefully removing them from their trade spots.
Some inhuman actions by members of the task force has evoked the anger of some traders within the business centres.
Similar exercises have begun at the Kumasi Central Business District, clearing off all unwanted and unauthorised structures to ensure the free flow of traffic.
Areas affected include, Adum, Pampasu, Roman Ridge, Roman Hill and Kejetia.
During the funeral rites of the late Queen of Asanteman, Nana Akua Serwaa Kobi Ampem II, the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) with support of the traditional council conducted a decongestion exercise which forced traders to move from trading along had unauthorised areas.
However, traders had returned to peddle their goods during the Christmas festivities. This has forced the KMA to embark on the exercise again.
In 2011, the AMA released new Bye-Laws which was approved by local government to arrest anyone who engaged in street hawking.
Per the law, no one is allowed to sell any merchandise to a driver of a vehicle or a passenger.
With a penalty attached to the law, defaulting persons may attract a fine and in severe cases, a prison term which does not exceed three months.
Governments, past and present have all been involved in one decongestion exercise or the other.
By: Grace Ablewor Sogbey/ firstname.lastname@example.org
& Doreen Mensah