Austin Brako Powers (Press and Information Secretary)
Austin Brako Powers?

?Yes ice cream?, ?a nice trouser for you sister?, ?soaps, three for GHC1?, ?emaa (female) belt? and ?shoes wo a ha? were some of the competing noise when you make the mistake of using a pavement in Accra. You?ll know no peace until you get to your destination. Amidst all these noise, one question begs asking, ?is the whole country a market place??

After some weeks of intensive decongestion of the capital city of hawkers by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) led by the Mayor Mr. Oko Vandapuiye, the pedestrian pavement in the city has again been filled by the hawkers and the pavements are replete with the bustling and hustling of market activities. In this piece, I want to find out if it?s possible to decongest the capital city of hawkers? Again, is the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) engaging in an exercise of futility?

Ghana like many other developing countries in the world has an underdeveloped informal sector which contributes huge chunk of money to the nation?s pool of resources. Governments upon Governments have failed to develop this sector for maximal benefit to the nation. Markets are constructed with impunity as if the occupiers are not members of the nation. The sellers and their association leaders are not engage in a kind of consultative meeting to find out possibly where to site a market and where not.? The only moments sellers and their association leaders are consulted is when local authority functionaries have constructed a market and would want the sellers to relocate. The occurrences of these rather unambitious exercises of our Governments have left a very difficult task on the hands of city authorities be it Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) or the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA).

Sellers who find a particular location of market unappealing and ?sale killer? have resorted to the streets to make sales instead of making do with the location given them. This has resulted in the reputation sinker, ?street hawkers? which is fast becoming a clich? in the dictionaries of city authorities in Ghana.

In the late 2007, the then Mayor of Accra, Mr. Adjiri Blankson under the erstwhile President John Kuffuor NPP-led regime did what he could to decongest the city only to leave the hawkers to their activities in the heat of 2008 General Elections. Mr. Oko Vandepuiye also gave political ?asylum? to the hawkers when the nation was preparing for the 2012 General Elections only to have his authority inundated by the growing strength of the hawkers. On one particular radio station in the country, Mr. Oko Vandepuiye was nearly in tears appealing to Ghanaians to help him carry out his exercise without difficulty and opposition.

What a shame Mr. Oko Vandapuiye!

Governments of both the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) have done their best to activate the political tone on the issue of decongesting the capital city of filth and hawkers. Accra stinks and I would not be surprise to say that, the city is one of the poorest cities in the world in terms of environmental cleanliness.

John Mahama, then candidate of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) ordered the Accra Mayor to rest the case of decongesting the city of the hawkers to enable him win at all cost in the 2012 General Election. President Kuffuor also did same in 2008 for his former contender Mr. Nana Akuffo Addo to become the President of Ghana which he narrowly failed to clinch on the seat losing it to the late President John Evans Attah-Mills of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). Our national leadership lacks the ?political balls? to cause a significant change in the country.

If care is not taken, Accra will witness one of the biggest human trafficks in the history of humanity by 2020. To be able to do this exercise without difficulty, the President of Ghana John Mahama must empower his Mayor by giving him the ?political balls? to carry out this exercise without fear or favor, ill-intention or interruption. The hawkers are tied closely to the apron strings of our national Governments and ties must be severed immediately.

I will not be surprise if President Mahama will fail in this venture since he is ambitiously working for his mandate to be renewed for him by Ghanaians in the year 2016 while he ignores with impunity his most sacred responsibility to Ghanaians. It was this pettiness of our past Presidents inter alia; Rawlings; Kuffuor and late President Mills? that has brought this issue of street hawkers with it associated repercussions. God has endowed them with eyes yet they couldn?t see beyond their interest.

If President Mahama wants to be remembered for having done something under his presidency, he should outlive this hypocrisy and pettiness and get the courage to carry out this exercise for our cities to be free and free once and for all.

In all these fellas, I believe hope cannot be lost on us. We must commend the Mayor for what he and his outfit has been able to achieve within some few weeks and urge them on to strive the more to the battle for us. Already, the hawkers have won the battle and we must endeavor to turn the tables down on them without fail. We must overcome.


Source:?Austin Brako-Powers


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