AMA gives up fight against hawkers

The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) has decided to give up its decision to evict petty traders off the pedestrian walkways and shoulders of roads in the Central Business District (CBD) of Accra.

That, according to the AMA, was because the traders had become recalcitrant, and as such any money spent on evicting them would be a waste.

The areas with huge presence of petty traders in Accra include the Independence Avenue, Kinbu, Derby Avenue, Okaishie, Kaneshie and Kwame Nkrumah Circle

The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the AMA, Numo Blafo, told the Daily Graphic in an interview that the petty traders returned to the CBD within days after the eviction exercise.

The reason, he said, was that the AMA did not have enough security officers (metro guards) to prevent the petty traders from going back to the streets.

Numo Blafo said the AMA would, therefore, not want to waste any huge sum of money and energy on the eviction exercise only for the petty traders to return to the streets a few days after.

He said the AMA had realised that one of the main reasons behind the recalcitrant nature of the petty traders was because they could not secure spaces at the various markets.

As a result, Numo Blafo said the AMA would, through a public/private partnership, begin the reconstruction of 13 selected markets in Accra beginning from June, 2015, to accommodate petty traders in the CBD.

The selected markets include the Makola, Salaga, Mallam, Nima, Mamobi and Mallam Atta markets. There will be stores, stalls and sheds.

Numo Blafo said the assembly would move all the petty traders off the pavements and streets to the markets after the reconstruction.

He warned that the AMA would prosecute any petty trader who would return to the pavements and streets after the relocation exercise.

“Now there is no space in the markets. So it will be inhuman for you to evict the hawkers. But after the reconstruction of the markets, anyone we see selling on the pavements will be prosecuted,” he warned.

Numo Blafo said people had been calling on the AMA to have a human face in dealing with petty traders.

Therefore, he said, the AMA was demonstrating the human face “by reconstructing the markets and getting everybody the space to engage their activities.

“We are not interested in denying people their livelihood,” he said.

Petty traders constitute a big constituency and, therefore, wield massive votes which are solicited for by all political parties in national elections.

As a result, successive governments see the eviction of petty traders off the streets as political suicide.

Some political leaders are even rumoured to have stepped in to frustrate the efforts of any Accra Metropolitan Chief Executive who made an attempt to evict the petty traders from the streets.

Some of the chief executives are even accused of doing the bidding of the opposition political parties against the ruling party.

Numo Blafo acknowledged that the ‘political twists’ that are gave to the eviction of petty traders had also frustrated the effort of the AMA in clearing them off the streets.

Besides, he said, some members of ruling parties often criticised the AMA for embarking on the eviction exercise but indicated that those criticisms could not stop the AMA from evicting the petty traders.

Some of the petty traders interviewed by the Daily Graphic welcomed the decision of the AMA to give them a respite pending the expansion of markets in Accra.

The PRO of the Rawlings Park Petty Traders Association, Mr Samuel Buabeng, said the traders themselves knew that they were selling at unauthorised places.

Mr Buabeng said the petty traders would be willing to move to the markets to do their trading.

He admitted that AMA had every right to prosecute any petty trader who would return to the pavements after the relocation.

A petty trader of detergents at the CBD, Ms Gladys Annor, said moving them to markets would save them from selling under harsh wheather conditions on the pavements.

“Everybody wants comfort. Nobody wants to work under harsh conditions. So if they expand the markets and ask us to go to where we can get comfort, we will go,” she said.

Source : Graphic Online