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The Return of the Hawkers, who is responsible?

Wed, 14 Sep 2005 Source: GNA

A GNA Feature by Samuel Bruce Nyarko

Accra, Sept. 14, GNA- Accra woke up one morning to see that hawkers, petty traders and unauthorized structures, that once clogged the pavements and other walkways and even streets, but cleared, have all come back.

One thought this time the metropolis had broken the jinx of only being occupied by traders who did their brisk business anywhere and anyhow in the city.

Unfortunately the new outlook the authorities intended to carve for the city to befit its status as a capital city turned to be a mirage. It has become a typical scenario of a nine-day wonder. The past glory could not be restored for long, neither was a new one provided. Freedom enjoyed by city dwellers was truncated. They've thrown their hands in despair.

The sober questions most people are tempted to ask as they trekked through the city are: "Why are the hawkers back? What exactly brought the hawkers back, and is any one involved or concerned about their return? These are indeed mind-boggling questions that one needs answers for.

Could this be a show of political hypocrisy, indiscipline on the part of the hawkers or negligence of city authorities in performing their duties.

In whatever way, someone must give answers. For goodness sake, when would our leaders call a spade a spade and desist from acts of insensitivity and things that only suit their interests. It's about time they took the bull by the horn.

As a matter of fact it does no group of persons any good to selfishly gamble with any project that would benefit the large proportion of the populace, typically decongestion and beautification of any part of the country. This is simply our only motherland and the onus is on us to make it a better place.

The decongestion exercise, which was greeted with outmost admiration by beauty lovers only turned to be a disappointment and a show of political antics.

City authorities dispensed strenuous efforts, invested huge resources and quality man-hours to eject the hawkers and these petty traders from locations they had illegally occupied over years. At the time these illegal occupants were ejected, there was a lot of brouhaha about it as social optimists praised the move while some cynics raised doubts regarding its sustainability; indeed they've been vindicated.

The fruits of the exercise were that it made it difficult or rather impossible for thieves to carry out their nefarious activities and people felt at ease to do business as the bustle and hustle posed by the crowd somewhat reduced to a considerable level.

Today, a walk in the major business centres of the metropolis tells a different story, the situation has deteriorated than ever; the old hawkers and new comers have flocked in and occupied every piece of space. It's a worrying scene but as one wonders how the snag could be resolved. Everybody appears adamant.

No one can tell the next step of the authorities at the Accra Metropolitan Assembly. Are they going back to the drawing board to cough up a new strategy or not. And who would take them serious this time. Indeed, the Accra Mayor and his able lieutenants did a yeoman's job but what went wrong, who stabbed Stanley Adjiri Blankson at the back? Did he just create a fanciful scene to attract public praise or some one somewhere thought his interest was at stake.

The hawkers consequently were promised new sites months ago but today, about eighth months down the line, they have not been resettled. They and their families must also eke out a living.

When will politicians mean what they say and do what they say? The case of the hawkers is a clear scenario of political summersault, and it seemed to tell the ordinary Ghanaian the nuances of politics.

The public, especially the police view of the current situation was not palatable, as they registered their greatest displeasure at the comeback of the hawkers. They claimed that it was a recipe for upsurge of criminal activities principally, the snatching of mobile phones. They say their hands are tied to their back, as they could now do little to guarantee the safety of city dwellers who have been at the mercy of hardened thieves who use all brute means to get what they wanted.

Mr. Yaw Akufo, a preacher at the Rawlings Park who spoke to the He said in the glare of the market women, motorbike thieves swiftly snatch mobile phones from their victims and bolt with impunity while others use daggers to threaten their victims and take their belongings.

The hawkers could not return without any cause, one could guess that they might capitalised on the tussle between the powers that be or the economic situation could also be a factor since that was how they made a livings.

Whichever the reasons that might be assigned their action is illegitimate and should not be countenanced, more so as it's at the discomfort of others. Why should illegitimacy be legitimised, the law must be given teeth to bite.

We should not play partisan politics with important national issues that needed to be addressed.

Only posterity can tell what precipitated the return of the hawkers to clog the city.

Columnist: GNA