Almost every year, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) embarks on its routine decongestion exercise. This exercise is mainly characterised by threats and counter-threats between the sellers and the Metropolitan Security Committee which comprises of the police, the military and the AMA taskforce. Down the years, this exercise has proved to be highly ineffective. The traders move from their illegal spots, albeit temporarily only to move back when “the heat cools off”.
The AMA has made it an open secret that the activities of these hawkers go contrary to the AMA hawkers by-laws of 2011 and section 117(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation, 2012(LI 2180) and a breach of the above stated laws are punishable by the law. It is amazing how these laws exist and yet there is so much difficulty in enforcing them. The decongestion of Accra has always hinged on two factors namely: humanity and legality. Legality in the sense that, the activities of the hawkers/traders go contrary to the law and humanity in the sense that every human is entitled to the right to earn a living (second generation of human rights). We must note that there is always a justification when one violates the law. In this case, the justification from the hawkers/traders is always that they have to feed themselves as well as their families. Due to the justification provided, they go ahead to breach the laws of the nation because “man must survive”. The effects of the activities of hawkers/traders in Accra are well profound. These include increase in vehicular traffic, choking of gutters, increase in the activities of pick pockets and excessive loitering of the environments, just to mention a few.
Of course, no one will be happy to deny these hawkers a source of livelihood. The issue is that the right thing must be done without giving room to emotional manipulations. As we have seen over the years, so much energy is spent on driving these people away but little is spent in preventing them from coming back. The AMA must note that Ghana’s population has increased significantly and so there is a higher demand for goods and services. Adequate market centres would have to be provided to these hawkers at affordable costs so that they can also earn a source of living. Yes, they can be driven away but are adequate provisions made for them so that they can keep on doing their business?
It is as good as pouring water on stone if the AMA go about this decongestion exercise without having effective plans of building affordable trading centres for these hawkers/traders so as to contain them. Definitely, attempts will be made by these hawkers/traders to go back to their illegal sites and that is where the AMA must stamp their authority.
Mayor of Accra, Mohammed Adjei Sowah said “We are encouraging all the hawkers and the petty traders to move back inside the markets. We want to fashion out a strategy to be able to sustain it”. Is it to say that there is yet no plan on how to prevent these traders/hawkers from moving back?
Is it apt to go into a war without any strategy on how to win? Your guess is as good as mine.
By: Baiden Gideon/EonlineGhana.Com