15.11.2007 Social News

Rights group condemns demolition exercise by AMA

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The Network for Women's Right in Ghana (NETRIGHT), has expressed dismay at the manner in which stalls and shops at different parts of Accra have been destroyed by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly.

"These acts of wanton destruction of the livelihoods of poor people are particularly regrettable because small traders, who are mainly women, form a substantial section of the working poor in Ghana, "Dr Rose Mensah-Kutin, NETRIGHT Convener said.

In a speech read on her behalf at a press conference in Accra, she said the group was particularly concerned about the proliferation of small scale trading all over the country adding.

"Thirty years of economic liberalization policies and economic growth have failed to transform the structures of the economy, expand its productive base and create good quality employment in Ghana," she said.

She added that the situation called for more people to struggle to make a living in the informal sector as farmers, traders and service providers adding that such people carried out their activities with credit from lenders.

Dr Mensah-Kutin said the national employment policy and the social protection strategies attested to the government's concerns to tackle under-employment and unemployment.

She said given the situation, "we cannot understand how the AMA, with the support of the police, can drive bulldozers over poor people's shops, destroy and burn their stocks, thus destroying their livelihood, homes and leaving them with debts to repay".

Dr Mensah-Kutin observed that the misuse of power contradicted government's concern to support the urban working poor adding, "It also contradicts the government's concern to help small women traders to break the cycle of self perpetuating poverty".

"The demolition has no place in a poverty reduction agenda. On the contrary, they are certain to create long-term insecurity for many families," she said.

She said although cities needed to be planned, small traders were not the problem in the country since their core business was trading adding that such livelihoods should not be sacrificed on the altar of beautification.

"Therefore unless we have alternative spaces and opportunities for informal sector workers such as traders, we would have no justification for ejecting and destroying their livelihoods."

Dr Mensah-Kutin called on AMA to halt the destruction of properties and asked government to compensate all affected persons.

Mr Daniel Adjei Adjetey, Chairman of the Tema Station Traders Association, urged government to reconsider their decision to evict them and resettle them to enable them to make a living.

He said the AMA failed to give them enough notice before the exercise, which greatly affected their wares at the time of the exercise.

Mr Adjetey said the Association had petitioned government on the matter and prayed that something positive would come out.

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