13.05.2005 Press Review

EDITORIAL:Mr President, Na Who Cause This Mess?

EDITORIAL:Mr President, Na Who Cause This Mess?
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YES, MR PRESIDENT, na who cause this mess?

We are talking specifically of the needless confrontation between street traders who have styled themselves as 'hawkers' and the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) Task Force paid by the tax payer to keep the city clean.

We blame nobody but President John Agyekum Kufuor for this particular mess. And our reason is simple.

We are of the opinion that President Kufuor's interference (to say it politely) and attempt to portray himself as a father of the hawkers to gain some political mileage or for whatever reason, is what has given the hawkers the belief that they can hold residents of the national capital to ransom.

We understand why, as a politician, the President would be moved to do what he did, especially when the hawkers were sending signals to suggest that his administration was becoming unpopular with the masses. What we do not agree with is why the presidency should rush, because of this limited reasoning, to call for a halt to a project that many Ghanaians and residents of the capital would praise his administration for.

The truth is that if government is becoming unpopular, it is not, in our view because of the clearance of the street of hawkers; it is simply because of the challenging times the economy finds itself in. It is government's business to explain why this is so and to put in place concrete measures to address this problem.

It can never be that the solution is to placate the hawkers at the expense of the millions of Ghanaians who support the re-introduction of discipline in the central business districts of Accra and Kumasi.

This is where we believe the President's strategists erred in sending out that mixed message last Friday that he had called for a stoppage of the decongestion exercise.

Let it be said that GYE NYAME CONCORD is not by any stretch of imagination suggesting that having the hawkers - most of whom reportedly voted for the ruling party - in mind in whatever the AMA does, is a sin. It cannot be, for they are indeed Ghanaians and legitimate tax payers as well.

What we are saying is that after the AMA had succeeded in clearing them off the streets, the presidency could on the quiet have plodded the AMA boss and his staff to ensure a speedy resolution of their problem without necessary seeming to have scolded the district assembly in public. The effect of that public scolding is what seemed to have emboldened the hawkers to attempt to go back to the streets, with threats to even take the law into their hands.

Was it not for this same problem that Mr Solomon Ofei Darko, the predecessor of Nii Adjiri Blankson, was removed? So, why this self-inflicted sabotage? Especially when the problem looks like it was being solved, albeit with difficulties. We think the President did not treat the AMA fairly and that the populist attempt of playing into the hands of the hawkers has nearly caused us the battle against street indiscipline.

We hope we, including the presidency, have all learnt our lessons.

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