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Workers in the informal sector on Thursday appealed to the Government to involve them in the formulation of legislations that seeks to regulate their activities.

They argued that although there were several existing legislations that governed the activities of the informal sector, implementation had become a major challenge for regulating agencies due to the lack of knowledge about those laws by sector players.

Mr Anass Ibrahim Hille, the Chairman of the Informal Hawkers and Vendors Association of Ghana (IHVAG), made the appeal at a dialogue organised by the Women in Informal Employment: Globalising and Organising (WIEGO), a Non-governmental Organisation in Accra.

He said for those legislations to be effectively implemented, the Government must engage the beneficiaries and ensure they appreciated the import of the laws to achieve the expected goal.

“We need to know the law to be able to adhere to them, otherwise we will continue to violate them and always be in trouble,” he said.

Mr Hille spoke about the numerous harassments they faced on daily basis from revenue collectors of the assemblies, citing instances where some female street vendors had to endure sexual abuses or had their wares confiscated.

Others like waste pickers worked under hazardous conditions without access to proper healthcare.

He said although those category of workers, as estimated by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), formed almost 85 per cent of Ghana’s labour force, and contributed immensely to economic development, the government had done very little to relate properly with it.

Ms Mercy Afrowa Needjan, the President of the Greater Accra Markets Association, lamented over the numerous challenges that confronted informal workers due to their lack of knowledge about the laws that regulated their activities or the available legal redress for the violations of their human rights.

She urged the Government to properly engage with the leadership of informal sector workers associations to form a strong partnership to strategies for solutions to the current sanitation and other environmental challenges in the cities.

She said informal sector workers should not be seen as a nuisance to national development.

Ms Marlese Von Broembsen, the Director of the Law Programme at WIEGO, noted that the challenges faced by informal workers was a global concern, citing the harassments that street vendors faced leading to some losing their incomes.

The exclusion and arbitrary abuse of informal workers in public spaces drove them outside the regulatory system, and contributed to some of the visible negatives associated with them such as overcrowding on the streets, poor hygiene and uncollected refuse, she said.

The Dialogue, she explained, ultimately aimed at identifying lawyers with an interest in providing legal support to informal workers in ways that would educate them on their rights.

It also seeks to build a team of lawyers to support them to invoke principles such as administrative justice, and help them make inputs to draft laws and policies that regulated their work.

Ms Broembsen said through the initiation of the Administrative Justice Project, WIEGO had found that the consistent application of administrative law and regulations could contribute towards a rational and inclusive system and more harmonious relations between local authorities and workers.

During the event street vendors and waste pickers shared their experiences, circumstances and the daily challenges they encounter in their work.

Their challenges include the lack of access to public space, infrastructure and services that formal businesses expect, the threat of eviction, confiscations and even arrest.

Participants were given an overview of the law regulating street vending and waste picking in Ghana, and specifically the applicable bye-laws in Accra.

The platform also discussed the framework that protected the rights of street vendors and waste pickers, including the Constitution, which guaranteed the right to just administrative action by local authorities and protect the right of every person to work under satisfactory safe and healthy conditions.

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