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24.04.2007 Crime & Punishment

Court Convicts 26 Traders

A Kumasi circuit court has imposed fines totalling ¢13 million on 26 traders who returned to the Kumasi Central Business District (CBD) to transact business, in violation of the directives of the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA).

The court, presided over by Mr Justice Owusu Afriyie, warned that it would not hesitate to impose custodial sentences, in addition to the imposition of heavy fines, on recalcitrant traders.

The Kumasi Divisional Police Crime Officer, Mr Kwaku Duah, who briefed the media on the case, said each of the traders was fined ¢500,000 or in default serve a three-month prison term when they appeared before the court last week.

He said the traders were arraigned after they returned to the CBD to transact business against KMA directives.

According to Mr Duah, the 26 traders were among 54 traders who were arrested for committing similar offences and pleaded guilty to the offence of transacting business at unauthorised places, saying that the others would be arraigned after the police had finished with their investigations.

He said apart from the CBD, the traders had also been banned from transacting business at the Morocco Shoe House area, as well as the Dr Mensah area where their activities always created human and vehicular congestion.

Three weeks ago, the KMA ejected the traders from the CBD and threatened to arrest those who returned to the area for any business transactions.

A task force of 80 personnel, comprising the police, Prison officers, KMA guards, among others, was established to monitor the area to ward off any trader who returned to transact business there.

As part of his tour to some project sites in the metropolis two weeks ago, the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, also visited the CBD and commended the KMA for its bold decision of ejecting the traders from the area.

He expressed concern about the activities of traders at the CBD, which, he said, had created much nuisance in the metropolis and urged the affected traders to comply with the KMA directives and look for alternative places to transact business.

Story by George Ernest Asare