The Mayor of Accra, Dr Alfred Oko Vanderpuije has stressed that from April 1, the Assembly will enforce all bye-laws that debar hawking activities in areas such as Flagstaff House, 37 Military hospital, Mallam, Lapaz and other designated places.

New PictureThe Accra Metropolitan Assembly will begin arresting hawkers who will flout the AMA bye-laws.

The directive was contained in new by-laws approved by the Assembly and the Local Government Ministry aimed at ridding major streets in the capital of hawkers.

In strict accordance with these laws, no one will be allowed to sell any merchandise to a driver of a vehicle or a passenger whilst a vehicle is caught up in traffic.

Again, the laws also stipulate that a person shall not also buy from a street hawker unless the street is designated for that purpose.

Per the new laws, anyone found culpable of committing any of the above offenses? will be liable on summary conviction to a fine or in default to a term of imprisonment not exceeding three months or commuted to perform communal labour.

When officials of the AMA visited some streets in Accra on the first day the laws took effect (1st April, 2011), it was observed that hawkers were not on the streets. Areas visited included Accra High Street, Malam Junction, Kwashieman, Lapaz, Apenkwa and 37 Military hospital.

The Public Relations Officer of the assembly, Numo Blafo, told the media at the time that the AMA had trained some hundred personnel from the various security metros to patrol the streets in their quest to ensure that the hawkers do not return to the streets.

Exactly two-and-half years after these laws came into force, the story is rather opposite of what was observed on the first day. On a-fact-finding mission to the various major streets listed, this paper can attest with utmost certainty that the number of hawkers have more than doubled.

Pavements along the streets have not been spared as pedestrians are compelled to compete with motorists for space because the pavements have completely been taken over by hawkers and squatters.

In an interview with some of the hawkers on the various streets they lamented about having no intentions of flouting the laws of the land neither are they in any way showing gross contempt to the Assembly?s bye-laws.

However, they contended that the harsh economic situation confronting the nation has been a compelling factor that has kept them on the streets.

They believe the solution to the street hawking saga is not about driving them away but there should be a concerted effort by government aimed at creating enough jobs and also offering them skills training to make them employable.

When the PRO of the assembly, Numo Blafo was contacte, he reiterated that the Assembly’s effort at ridding the streets of hawkers have received some frustrations from comments made by a group of people who call themselves human rights activists.

He noted that since the AMA began enforcing the bye-laws they have been consistently lambasted by this section of the public accusing the Assembly of trampling on the basic rights of the innocent traders.

The PRO deplored the attitudes of these human rights activists, stressing that they have neglected the safety of these hawkers, ”if they are concerned about the safety of these hawkers, they would not encourage them to sell on the streets where they are exposed to so many dangers,” he challenged.

He cited a recent accident which occurred on the Kasoa-Mallam road where the driver of an articulated truck lost control and ran into a group of hawkers doing business right in the middle of the street, killing some of them instantly whilst others sustained various degrees of injuries.

Numo Blafo however conceded that due to some budgetary constraints of the Assembly, it has proven very difficult to recruit more personnel to patrol the streets.

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