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19 February 2010 | Regional News

Beggars, petty traders take over Tamale streets

Edmond Gyebi - Ghanaian Chronicle

The central business district of the Tamale Metropolis has become a free zone for beggars, petty traders, and hawkers, to undertake all manner of businesses. The number of beggars in particular, keeps increasing day-after-day, and the city authorities are to usher in plans to remove them from the streets.

The pavements around the Tamale Central Market, on the main Tamale-Bolgantanga-Burkina Faso road, have now become an attractive centre for the beggars, some of who are with their kids.

The Tamale Metropolitan Assembly somewhere in between 2007/2008 introduced what it termed the Tamale Beautification Project, ahead of the Ghana 2008 African Cup of Nations, to give the city the facelift it deserved.

As a result, the beggars and the hawkers, as well as some unauthorised structures and containers shops were removed.

However, the current administration has not really done much to ensure that the effort to decongest the city was sustained, hence the return of the beggars and the hawkers.

The traders have completely taken over all the pavements along the major streets, and are causing congestion in the city.

The Northern File uncovered that most of the hawkers were non-residents of Tamale, most of who come from Kumasi, Techiman and Bolgatanga to sell in Tamale at reduced prices.

They are therefore attracting high patronage, especially those selling ladies wears, shoes, sandals and other ladies' products.

Apart from the congestion, the hawkers are also generating waste along the streets.

Even though the activity has existed for long a time, officials of the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly are yet to do something about it.

In an interview with Northern File, some of the hawkers disclosed that selling on the streets fetches them more money than in the markets.

According to them, they sometimes spend the whole day in the market without making any significant sales.

One Kwesi Anane Yeboah, who sells ladies underwear, disclosed that their prices were far moderate than those selling in the markets.

He indicated that selling outside the markets had even helped reduce the congestion in there, and also helps the customers have clear options in purchasing goods.

One Madam Helena Asante, who was seen patronising the hawkers' goods, asserted that buying from the hawkers, especially those from Kumasi, was far cheaper than in the market.

She said that sometimes the sanitation situation inside the market compels most of the women to buy along the streets.

Meanwhile, traders in the market are also complaining about the situation. According to them, they do not understand why the assembly has allowed the practice of hawking on the streets and pavements to go on for years now.

They said those hawkers selling outside the market, and are making good sales, are not made to pay taxes to the assembly.

The legal traders, as they call themselves, appealed to the assembly to take immediate action and clear the hawkers off the streets, before they also move to the streets to sell.

When contacted, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Tamale Metro Assembly, Issah Salifu Musah, noted that the officials of the assembly had taken note of the beggars and hawkers, and their activities, and would descend on them anytime soon.

According to him, their stay on the pavements put the lives of the pedestrians in real danger, as they struggle to use the roads with vehicles.

He said the beggars also litter the places with impunity, and cautioned them to start relocating to the Central Mosque area, where they, themselves, had already proposed as a safe place for their activities.