Business News of 2013-12-24

Accra under siege from Xmas shoppers

The period just before Christmas has once again lived to its billing as the time of year when most Ghanaians do a lot of shopping and most traders crown the year with bumper sales. Although a few days ago most traders complained of low patronage of their wares, the run-up to the yuletide painted a totally different picture.
The much sought after Christmas fever finally arrived, but not without some hiccups.
In Accra, as early as 5 a.m. on Monday, two days before Christmas, hordes of people were seen heading for the central business district (CBD) from all directions of the city, to do some last-minute shopping, a development that resulted in slow-moving traffic on all the roads leading to the city centre.
Some people were seen walking towards the CBD because it was difficult to catch the usual mini buses (trotros) and other vehicles that ply the city centre from the various cit
Although traffic moving to the CBD was thick, it could have been worse but for the heavy police presence at intersections and vantage points along major routes.
Jostling, shoving and pushing were the order of the day, as the last-minute shoppers weaved through the milling crowds to haggle over the prices of items.
Vida Essel reports that as of 8:25 a.m. yesterday, vehicles plying the Kaneshie-Accra Central route were hard to come by and passengers had to struggle to get on board the few that were available, while taxi drivers took advantage of the situation and charged GHC2 per passenger, instead of the normal fare of GHC1.20. Shoppers who travelled from the Kwame Nkrumah Circle to the CBD by taxi, parted with GHC3, instead of the approved fare of GHC1.
Those who were lucky to go by trotro, had to pay a fare of GHC1, instead of 60Gp. Those who did not want to be cheated had to walk.
By 9 a.m. all roads leading to the Obetsebi-Lamptey Circle were choked with vehicular traffic but there were a number of policemen at hand to salvage the situation.
CBD/ Atta Mills High Street
Although vehicular traffic was equally heavy at the CBD when the Daily Graphic visited, it was moving at a steady pace. The reason was that the Accra Metropolitan Chief Executive, Dr Alfred Oko Vanderpuije, and some officials of the Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU) of the Ghana Police Service were on hand to ensure that drivers complied with new directives introduced under the ‘Operation let the traffic Flow’.
The situation was not different on the Atta Mills High Street, where the traffic was heavy from the street in front of the Cocoa Affairs Court to the Korle-Bu traffic lights.
Christmas Shopping
Charles Andoh and Nancy Ofori Gyewu report that there was brisk business at the Makola Market in the CBD.
There was heavy human traffic as well.
Ironically, some traders who spoke with the Daily Graphic complained that patronage this year had been very low and slow, compared to the previous years.
Monica Asare, who deals in under garments, attributed that the situation to the low salaries of workers, contending that there was no money in the system.
A bag seller, Gladys Otoo, expressed similar sentiments.
A wholesaler at the Kantamanto Market, who pleaded anonymity, told the Daily Graphic that on normal occasions patronage of her goods was very high, but during this Yuletide it had been poor.
Meanwhile, a visit by Lydia Ezit and Franklin Badu Jnr to the Makola Market on Sunday revealed that most of the shops were closed, with few people seen buying and selling among heaps of filth piled along the road.
Items on display included pastries, cooking utensils, shoes, electrical appliances, mattresses, food items, among others.
Prices of children’s clothing ranged from GHC15 to GHC25, while those of bags ranged from GHC10 to GHC50 depending on the quality and the designer, with Kumasi-made slippers going for between GHC6 and GHC7.
Although the few traders and buyers did not have heavy vehicular traffic to contend with, some traders complained of bad business, while the buyers also said things were expensive and as such they could not purchase much.
Kwame Nkrumah Circle
Surprisingly, business on the Nkrumah Circle Pedestrian Bridge and at the Hawkers Market boomed, with many people patronising used clothing, Christmas decorations, pastries, cosmetics, shoes, phones and accessories, bags and others.
Clothes and other items were hung on the bridge, with sellers ringing bells to attract customers.
“This year, marketing has been good, compared with previous years. Sometimes I have to leave very late because people keep coming in to buy,” Abena, a pastry seller, said.
Livestock sellers
Despite complaints of low patronage from some traders, livestock sellers had good news to tell.
David Apadugo, who sells fowls at the Kantamanto Market, indicated that even though the festive season was yet to start, patronage was very high.
Adoko Ayoney also said he was able to sell 100 fowls a day when the market was favourable.
He stated that broilers were sold at between GH¢25 and GH¢35, depending on their weight.
But Salomey Appiah, who was at the very patronised Accra Mall, said business activities at the mall on yesterday morning were slow, as there were few shoppers around to purchase merchandise.
When the Daily Graphic visited the mall around 8:30 a.m., most of the shops were closed, with a small number of shoppers waiting for the shops to be opened.
“I came early to buy my stuff because I don’t want to be caught in traffic in the evening or late afternoon,” a shopper, Maame Ama, said.
In an interview, the Marketing Officer of the Accra Mall, Mr Michael Oduro Konadu, said so far activities at the mall had been smooth.
Traffic at the mall and outside, he said, had been under control, as it was managed by the mall security.
According to him, the mall usually saw a very large number of people on December 26 and January 1.
Therefore, he said, the management was working to get extra security from outside to help the mall security manage the human and vehicular traffic that would be expected.
A visit by the Daily Graphic to the Neoplan Station, a famed bus terminal in Accra, revealed that patronage had reduced in recent times.
According to the Welfare Chairman of the station, Mr John Awuah, for the past few weeks there had been low patronage.
Operation let traffic flow
‘Operation let traffic flow’, jointly launched last Wednesday by the AMA, the Dade Kotopon Municipal Assembly, the Ghana Police Service, the MTTU, the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) and the Department of Urban Roads, had been necessitated by public outcry against the long hours spent in traffic.
The initiative was to help reduce traffic congestion confronting the city, especially during the festive season.
Under the operation, some streets were to be opened to drivers to provide alternative routes to ensure accessibility and traffic free drive during the Christmas season.
Other roads were also to be converted to one-way lanes to serve a similar purpose.
Traders were also to be evicted from the principal streets of Accra to make for free movement.