Chronicle News Team Report
The exercise by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) to rid the city of hawkers, took a different turn yesterday, when a journalist of The Chronicle newspaper, Daniel Nonor, was hooked by the waist of his trousers, and dragged by the task force into a waiting van and driven to the Okai Koi sub metro office of the AMA at Abeka.
At the metro office, a tall, dark Ewe lady, who had a wig stuck to her head and works with the Sanitation Department, told our Associate Editor, Emmanuel Akli, in the Ewe language that the taskforce should have beaten the reporter and thrown him into a gutter.
She claims journalists had become too known, and must be dealt with appropriately.
This was after Mr. Akli had engaged the Anlo lady in a heated argument as to the powers the metro taskforce had to arrest and detain a journalist, who was taking a picture of the task force's operations.
Another dark Ewe lady, from the same Sanitation Department whose accent gave her out as someone who comes from the middle part of the Volta Region, also joined the verbal attack on the journalist, and at a point in time, ordered Mr. Akli and two reporters from the paper to leave their office.
Two gentlemen from the same department, who were swallowing balls of kenkey, sat aloof as the two Ewe ladies decided to teach journalists how they should go about their work.
The reporter, Daniel Nonor, was returning to the office, after visiting the Achimota Hospital when he chanced upon a scene of brute eviction and arrest of hawkers along the pavements under the Achimota overhead bridge.
Taken aback by the force with which the task force was manhandling the helpless victims, he decided to take a shot of the action, but was 'unlucky' to have been spotted by one of the personnel.
On the spur of the moment, his legs had assumed new heights, as two muscled men, one with his hand hooked to the back of his (Nonor) trousers, and the other the front, dragged him into the waiting mini bus, which was already filed with 'victims'.
One of the attackers, who apparently did not know the reason why he was even arresting the journalist, inquired from his colleague what this reporter's crime was.
His colleague then informed him that their victim had taken a picture of them, and that he could be a journalist.
His partner then suggested that they delete the pictures on the mobile phone they had violently taken from this reporter.
When they had come to the conclusion that the reporter should be sent to their office where the deleting should be done, they pushed him into the van, with a motor traffic officer to man him, so in their words, 'he would not escape through the window.'
It was a pathetic scene at the sanitation court in Abeka, as tears trickled down the cheeks of the helpless women, as an officer entered the room to take down their names and record their offences.
A young lady, apparently in her teens, who was down in her own grief and could not put herself together any more, sobbed bitterly as the gentleman impressed upon her to mention her name.
'Yes you, what is your name? Ok! If you finish crying you can then tell me what your name is,' the gentleman eventually said.
At the court room, the arrested persons, mostly women, shared their experiences at the hands of the task force.
Others told stories of how they were struggling to make ends meet, only to find themselves in that unfortunate situation.
A middle-aged woman, who gave her name as Grace Adzeivie, said she sells pure water to look after her children in school.
Narrating the incident leading to her arrest, she said she had taken note of the AMA directive not to sell by the road side, so she had decided to sell at a distance from the road.
She continued that she was crossing to the other side of the road to sell to her vulcaniser customers, when the task force pounced on her, and arrested her.
The mothers, who suspected that their children could now be returning from school, turned several times in their seats, as they asked rhetorically, who would take care of them (the children) when they return from school.
'God will certainly punish these guys if my four year old son returns from school and even sighs as a result of hunger, and not knowing where I have gone to,' she said pitifully.
Then, as if by design, a van on which Lucky Mensah's latest hit 'nkratoo' was being played through huge loud speakers on board, passed by the 'inmates', who in unison called for the van to come closer, as the song said it all for them.
It took the intervention of the Associate Editor of The Chronicle and some staff of the paper to get the reporter out of the court room yesterday.