Contrary to accusations against the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) that it failed to inform hawkers at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle of its decongestion exercise on Thursday, 4 May, Mr Adu Boahene, National Spokesperson of the United Traders’ Forum, has said the Assembly notified them.
Following Thursday’s exercise which led to the removal of traders from the pavements at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, several affected persons said the AMA had failed to give them prior information.
However, Mr Boahene, also a trader, said the AMA had communicated its intent at least a fortnight before it moved in.
“…They informed us, they made us aware of the exercise…” Mr Boahene admitted in an interview on Ghana Yensom on Accra100.5FM on Friday May 5. “Apart from giving us two weeks, they gave us additional three days. So we knew of the AMA’s exercise.”
Mr Boahene, who is also Chairman of the Pedestrian Shopping Mall, recalled vans of the Information Services Department (ISD) announced the impending exercise from its vans at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle more than a week to the deadline given the traders, while others were sent on foot to communicate the message to traders beyond the reach of the van’s broadcast.
He added that with the two-week deadline elapsing on May 1, a holiday, the AMA task force was not at work to enforce the order while failing to show up two days after that. Thus, he said, traders were “taken by surprise” when the AMA moved in to effect the decongestion of the streets on Thursday.
Mr Boahene described as “untrue” the excuse proffered by some traders that they sold on the streets because they could not get places to sell at the nearby Pedestrian Shopping Mall – set up in 2007 as a shopping centre for persons who sold on the pavements of the Kwame Nkrumah Circle.
In his view, traders found selling on the streets more profitable given that impulse buying is a strong Ghanaian consumer behaviour.
“The fact is in Ghana we are attuned to buying from the roadside. So, if government is not firm about eliminating hawkers, there would be problems,” Mr Boahene clarified, urging evicted traders to “come and join us” at the Pedestrian Shopping Mall.
He also commended the AMA for going about the decongestion exercise peacefully while appealing to the government to help in making the place a popular place for shoppers.