Traditional caterers from Nigeria and Cote d'Ivoire are trooping to Essipon, one of the venues of the Ghana 2008 tournament, where the national teams of the two countries will be playing. The caterers are trying to secure space to operate eating places for the many supporters expected to turn up.
Gari and yam, the main meals of the two countries, are expected to be on high demand for the period of the tournament and the caterers from both countries have approached developers at Essipon to partner them or provide them with space to serve food.
The Nigerians and Ivorians say they will be serving “Eba and Ogbono” soup, as well as “Attieke” and other traditional dishes.
Some Ghanaian caterers have also indicated that they will serve a variety of local and international dishes in addition to operating drinking spots, clubs and other recreational centres.
It is estimated that about 30,000 and 24,000 supporters from Nigeria and Cote d'Ivoire, respectively will be in the metropolis to support their national teams.
Apart from food, the prices of parcels of land have already sky-rocketed because of the tournament. Land prices have risen by about 60 per cent, compared to what they were before the stadium was built, and indications are that as demand keeps rising, so will prices.
Interestingly, the traditional diet of the Ivorians is similar to that of Ghanaians, that is, mainly grains and tubers. But those looking for the space to serve customers will include on their menu the popular “Attieke” (grated cassava), which is an Ivorian desert.
The Ivorians will mount open-air restaurants which are normally referred to as Maquis. Additionally, one of the biggest hotels in the Shama Ahanta East metropolis, the Raybow Hotel, is also creating a complete village for the teeming Nigerian supporters to be served with the popular 'Gari and Ogbono' soup.
At the moment, a team from the hotel has left Takoradi for Nigeria to buy a container full of ingredients that will last for the period.
According to Mr S.K. Liemuoh, the owner of the Stadium View Spot, a drinking bar located at the junction of the stadium, he had been approached by the caterers for the use a space near his drinking spot.
“I am at the moment preparing the place for them. They are coming in their numbers. They said they just wanted to mount their tents and serve their supporters,” he said.
He said his spot would also be serving all kinds of Ghanaian traditional food, such as tuo zafi, fufu, akple and fetri detsi.
The Manager of the Raybow Hotel, Mr Anthony K. Addiaba, said the management was creating a complete village where people from Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire and other countries could come and have the feel of the traditional foods of their countries.
Mr Addiaba said he had provided a place for football teams and officials where they could be safe and comfortable and enjoy traditional dishes, while some residents took care of the supporters.
As a result of the dominance of the major sponsor, MTN, at the community, other corporate bodies who want their presence to be felt are feverishly painting various drinking spots and food joints and other structures in their colours.
A few years ago, Essipon was a place where most people would not stay or work, especially when the Inchaban-Sekondi road deteriorated to such an extent that people going from Sekondi to Inchaban or Essipon had to make a detour through Takoradi or Effia Kuma.
With the construction of the road and a completely new stadium, and the tournament only 37 days away, Essipon is now a complete “city” in the making. There are superstructures that could be comparable to others in Takoradi.
The Chief of the town, Nana Kofi Abuna V, one of the few female chiefs in the country, says anyone interested in development activities could approach the elders for a partnership to develop the community, adding, “We are ready for the visitors and investors. Let them come.”
Story by Moses Dotsey Aklorbortu