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06.09.2005 Press Review

Editorial: Who Brought Back the Hawkers?

Public Agenda

Early this year, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, (AMA) began what all well meaning Ghanaians and individuals lauded: the decongestion of the Central Business District of Accra.

All hawkers whose activities obstructed free human and vehicular movement were sacked from the streets and road pavements. The exercise cost the AMA billions of cedis.

A walk down the Central Business District few weeks later after the exercise, particularly the Fire Service and Tudu areas, for the first time in many years, saw free pavements used only by pedestrians, no more hawkers.

Traffic had reduced drastically. And AMA said it was to relocate these hawkers and sellers to a place at the Kwame Nkrumah circle. Every body was happy at the success of the exercise.

But the joys of pedestrians and consumers were only to be shattered a few months latter. City dwellers woke up at the dawn of an intense contest for the Odododiodio parliamentary seat to find the hawkers back in full business.

The entire pavements within the Central Business District are once again filled with hawkers who appear to have doubled in number.

Perhaps it could be argued that the hawkers are back as a result of the delay by the city authorities in relocating them.

But the return of the hawkers on the streets on the eve of the Odododiodio elections seem to have proven right critics assertion that the decongestion exercise was only a nine-day wonder, come an election year.

Governments in Ghana often seem to lack the political will to take bold measures during election seasons. And this seems to be the case for the return of the hawkers. Else, nothing explains why a nation would choose to spend its scarce resources on a venture it intends not to sustain.

So, we ask again, who brought back the hawkers? Is it the AMA? Who at all brought back the hawkers?