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16.04.2008 Regional News

Rail traders, residents defy AMA

By Michael Addo - Ghanaian Chronicle
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Some traders and residents in parts of Accra have disregarded lawful authority of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), and the Ghana Railways Corporation (GRC), by bouncing back onto the railway tracks, to continue with their business activities.

There was clear evidence of this when the Accra File visited some parts of Kantamanto, Avenor and Alajo, to observe the situation. The sellers had moved back onto the railway tracks with their tables, and other materials, which aid their businesses.

They have, this time, multiplied to twice their previous number, after the Assembly and its collaborating team, had carried out an exercise to chase them off, and demolished structures which were within 50 feet of the railway tracks.

The places have become an abode for some, where several household duties such as cooking, bathing and washing take place. After a day's hard work, they take a short rest on the tracks, before joining others in their structures.

This has become the order of the day, since for about a year now the agencies in charge have turned a blind eye to the problem being created by the railway tracks. The sides of the railway tracks, which the Accra File discovered, were eroded, all because of the activities of the traders and dwellers.

In an interview with some of the traders and dwellers, at the places mentioned above, financial constraints and the inability to afford housing rents, had compelled them to find a temporary solution to their problems.

According to one Margaret Lamptey, a garden eggs seller, and a native of Nkwatana in the Eastern Region, now a resident at Kantamanto, the perception of securing a better and a faster job in the capital city, was the reason for her move to the city.

“I got to Accra to realize that I got it all wrong, and since I have no relatives around, I had to find myself something doing with the little money I had,” she said.

“This has made me land where I am, and now have a family of three to cater for,” she lamented.

The traders complained that congestion at the places has also been a contributing factor to the problems.

In some parts of the areas like Alajo and Avenor, some residents have mounted wooden structures, with some also putting up buildings close to the railway tracks, forgetting what might befall them should a derailment occur.

One question that will strike the minds of readers is what the AMA and Railways Corporation are doing to save the situation.

The Accra File engaged a discussion with the Public Relation Officer of AMA, Numo Blafo III, who mentioned for a fact that the Assembly conducted a decongestion exercise, last year, to eject traders from the railway tracks, and demolished structures placed at unapproved areas.

He admitted that though the exercise was successful, the traders have come back to the places, but assured of the Assembly's preparation to strike again.

The Area Manager of the Ghana Railway Corporation, Mr. Emmanuel Ativor, in an interview, expressed worry about the situation, saying that the activities of the traders and the residents had caused serious damage to the railway tracks.

He described the situation as horrific, and a threat to lives, and as such he was entreating traders and residents to vacate from the site, and comply with the laws.

He said that the Corporation drew up programs to address the situation, but due to financial constraints, they were unable to carry them out. “We have lacked the necessary support from the law enforcing agencies, and other state agencies to provide us with the requisite materials for our programs,” he said.

He, therefore, called on the government to come to their aid, and support them in their programs, to ensure discipline, decency and safety along the railway tracks.

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