After weeks of haggling over the issue of decongestion, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) finally got down to business on Sunday night and cleared all hawkers and illegal structures from the pedestrian walkways and shoulders of roads in the central business district (CBD) of Accra.
In the unannounced exercise, a task force of about 800 people, drawn from the assembly (Metro city guards), the Ghana Police Service, the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) and the Prisons Service carried out the activity into the dawn of yesterday.
The operation, which was led by the Metropolitan Chief Executive, Mr Alfred Vanderpuije, started at 9 p.m. on Sunday and by Monday morning there was little vehicular and human traffic at the CBD when the Daily Graphic visited the area to assess the impact of the exercise.
Motorists, particularly commercial drivers, who hitherto spent hours in traffic to let passengers get down and get on board their vehicles within the CBD, lauded the AMA for the exercise.
Some of them who spoke to the Daily Graphic were, however, sceptical of the assembly’s ability to sustain the exercise.
A taxi driver, Mr Jonathan Mensah, expressed shock at the sudden free flow of traffic at the CBD.
Currently, the Railway area, the area in front of the Accra City Fire Service Station, the Derby Avenue, as well as other areas in and around the CBD which were previously besieged by hawkers and traders, are free and pedestrians were seen walking freely without the usual hustle and bustle.
Mr Vanderpuije said adequate measures had been put in place to sustain the exercise, adding that members of the task force would patrol the areas daily.
Areas that had been cleared would be strictly monitored by members of the task force to ensure that the hawkers did not return, he said.
Asked whether the AMA had not gone back on its word of continuing with public education campaigns to allow the hawkers and petty traders to move voluntarily, Mr Vanderpuije explained that the education would run simultaneously with the clearing of illegal structures and street hawkers.
The decongestion, he said, was going according to plan, adding that “it started the day it was launched”.
The present condition at Kaneshie, he said, would be maintained, while the assembly put in more efforts to tackle other areas, including the Kwame Nkrumah Circle and other congested areas within the city.
The exercise at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, he said, would also include the demolition of the infamous Soldier Bar brothel.
He appealed to members of the public to support the exercise so that sanity would prevail in Accra.
A few of the affected traders said they had stalls at the Pedestrian Shopping Mall at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle and would, therefore, move there to transact their businesses.
Others also claimed they had shops within the main Makola markets but were forced onto the pavements because sales were low at the shops because they had been blocked by the presence of street hawkers.