Monday, 14 January 2013

Hawkers vs AMA/Mayor

Today I heard something which frankly pissed me off. It pissed me off because, well because I'm easily pissed off and ALSO because it involved the Accra Metropolitan Authority and the Mayor - a person who is not elected, when I think it is paramount that he is. Unfortunately for him, everything he does in that occupation will be analysed. You've gotta be sure you've got your shit about you if you're going to come into office un-democratically selected with a sort of what-I-say-goes-and-I-only-answer-to-the-President attitude. I won't say that everything he has done is bad but his handling of the hawkers in the past 4 years has been next to appalling.

So I opened Ghanaweb this morning after listening to the frustrations of Ghanaians on Rainbow Radio (Sky channel 0207). I was browsing through the days ridiculous news, like the President calling 4800 witnesses for the #ElectionPetition case. But I quickly got over the President's brazen mockery of the election petition because there was something else to get annoyed at. That was, the instruction from the AMA to the hawkers to pack up and leave by tonight. It's now just past 5pm and so I imagine the law enforcement officers to be out now overseeing this task.

I remain very indifferent about hawkers. On the one hand, I appreciate getting my newspaper 'on the go' but I don't like the noise, or the running alongside your car or the selling of food on the roadside (that might be a result of my UK upbringing don't hold it against me!) I fear for their safety and I don't like the social connotations the whole event seems to portray. The idea of poorer people running alongside coaches, trotros, 4x4s for just a small transaction frustrates me, it lacks dignity. But the hawker industry is massive and the problem is not the people but the lack of regulation.

In support of the hawkers, the AMA have not made substantial effort to provide alternatives to hawking. The markets burn almost biannually, the supermarkets collapse and don't have an assurance of safety from the authorities, THERE ARE NO JOBS ACCOMPANYING GHANA'S AMAZING ECONOMIC GROWTH. And yes that required caps because I'm literally shouting that at you. It's fundamental. Where does the Mayor expect these people to go, how will they be expected to eat, to send their kids to school (given that Ghana has chosen not to have free education). How will they keep up with rent (for those who have such obligations)? And you know what, imagine if none of these things are a problem at all, just what exactly does the Mayor expect people to do with their lives? Where are the shops for them to work in? Where are the employers? Are our new malls not filled with South African retail companies hoping to provide a 5* (read Western) style of service and consumerism?

When the Mayor shows me his alternatives I will stand right by his side screaming "Oya Com Ouutttt!" and when he shows a statement by the EC declaring him democratically elected to the post he now occupies I will stand by his side and remind the people that they voted for him, but so far, neither is true and for as long as this remains the case, I suggest he and his AMA, return to the drawing board and let the people of Accra live in peace.

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