Three major political parties have hailed the decongestion exercise in some of the country's major cities since, according to them, they seek to restore order.
The parties, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the Convention People's Party (CPP) and the People's National Convention (PNC), expressed their commitment to put in place measures that would keep the cities in order when they were given the mandate to govern.
Representatives of the three parties made the comments in separate interviews yesterday following the public interest that the decongestion exercises in some of the cities had generated in recent times.
The ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), however, declined to comment on the issue until after a meeting by the party's steering committee scheduled for yesterday evening.
A highly-placed party official told the paper on telephone that some leading members of the party had, in their individual capacities, expressed varied opinions on the issue and said it was appropriate for the party to harmonise its position on the issue after the steering committee's meeting.
The acting general secretary of the NDC, Mr Bede Ziedeng, said the party would carry out decongestion exercises with a human face, in decency and in a manner that would not bring untold hardship to the people. “That is what a responsible government needs to do,” he added.
He described as inappropriate the directive issued by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies to stop the decongestion exercises.
The general secretary of the CPP, Prof Nii Noi Dowuona, said a CPP Government would ensure that all traders were located within the various markets and also ensure proper urban planning to decongest the cities.
He said the party would also diversify the economy and develop the manufacturing sector, which would create more employment and, therefore, discourage people from the “buying and selling” business which had largely contributed to the congestion in the cities.
He said the ministry's directive was a “stab in the back” of the assemblies which had taken the initiative to decongest the cities, adding that it was a tacit admission by the Government that its policies were creating social upheaval.
The deputy chairman of the PNC, Alhaji Ahmed Ramadan, said a PNC Government would find alternative places for the hawkers to carry out their activities before undertaking a decongestion exercise.
Asked whether without such an alternative provision for traders a PNC Government would not carry out decongestion exercises, even by the end of its four-year term, he responded, “why do you dislodge the people when you have not made any alternative arrangement for them?” EJECTED HAWKERS WON'T BE ALLOWED BACK – MINISTER
The minister for local government and rural development, Mr Charles Binipom Bintin, has stated categorically that hawkers who were recently ejected from the streets in the three major cities of Accra, Kumasi and Sekondi-Takoradi will not be allowed back. He insisted that the decision to eject them was irrevocable.
The minister explained that the directive by his ministry to metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies to halt the decongestion exercises did not mean that the traders and hawkers who had been moved should return to the streets and sell.
Mr Bintin said this during a meeting with the leadership of the traders after the police had dispersed an illegal demonstration by some of the hawkers in Accra yesterday. He told the leadership of the traders to go back and convey the message clearly to their members.
According to him, the city authorities were prepared to provide security and containers at the temporary sites that had been provided for them at the Arts Centre and near Novotel Hotel in Accra.
“We have told them that we will provide containers for their goods and provide security to protect their wares at both places,” he said.
The minister said the site behind the Ghana Commercial Bank Towers, along the Odaw Canal at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, would be allocated to ejected traders and that the place would be developed for them to move there, explaining that the hawkers should try the temporary places for two weeks.
The minister also expressed concern about the politicisation of the decongestion exercise and called on those engaged in that act to put a stop to it.
He noted that the demand of the traders that they should be settled at the Public Works Department (PWD) yard was not possible now, since the workers and the machines there would have to be relocated first.
He dismissed rumours among the traders that President Kufuor had asked them to return to the streets, saying that “the President has never directed anybody to go back to the streets as is being speculated.”
He said his doors were always opened and that leaders of the traders could come back with any other suggestions they had for discussion.
Meanwhile, the chief executive officer of the AMA, Mr Stanley Adjiri Blankson, has said in order to give the decongestion exercise a human face in response to public concerns, attempts are being made to relocate the displaced traders.
He told the second ordinary meeting of the third session of the assembly that “discussions are going on with KADMOUS Company Limited for a lease of its property situated by the Agbogbloshie lorry park for use by the displaced traders and vendors.