UNASSAILABLE INFORMATION reaching Wojaku indicates that the Mayor is drawing tons of applause daily from stakeholders in trade in the Central Business District (CBD) of Accra. Initial fears at the level of officialdom that the ill-fated decongestion exercise which he chose to continue, will fun into difficulties, with negative political consequences, has distilled even up to the corridors of State political authority.
Reliable sources, including market queens at the Makola Market and Municipal and District Assembly operatives, say in spite of slips that confronted his kick-the-hawkers-off-the-streets directive, the storm has quieted and the Seventh Day Adventist Elder is being quietly appreciated and applauded at the Castle and Cabinet .
One senior technocrat at the AMA who we spoke with said the AMA was learning from the response of the media towards the carrying out the exercise. “We are monitoring the exercise and we have taken note of the response from the media. Accordingly, we are being guided determinately to fine-tuning daily the programme, so that we don’t fall into the errors that had bedeviled previous attempts at sanitizing trade and traffic in CBD, in line with AMA and Government policy.
Another Assemblyman from Ga West, who confirmed our story, said the new strategies developed under the Mayor in terms of the decongestion exercise at the CBD is one area that “the credibility and commitment of the Mayor has stood out, adding that Dr. Alfred Oko Vanderpuye could, by that stint alone, become Ghana’s longest serving Mayor. “As long as we don’t have a problem with him; as long as he has been able to surmount this politically tricky exercise; as long as he has set the pace…we believe the Government might not be tempted to replace him.”
On -the-spot-check at Tudu, Kinbu, Kaneshie and Circle by our scouts reveal that the young men and women in the loud green, conscripted under the NYEP module, are applying a human face to the decongestion exercise, and sometimes even helps hawkers to slip sachet water to thirsty passengers on board mini buses.
Our reporter at Kaneshie for instance revealed that whist the pavements were clear and human and vehicular traffic flowed unimpeded, a couple of elderly men and women who appealed to the conscience of the men in green played the Good Samaritan in that regard. The few hawkers whom she managed to speak with, however, indicated that hawkers, particularly, sachet water dealers, were still making modest sales. The situation was the same in Accra, where simple word of mouth did the trick instead of the previous situation where truncheons flew in the air as if hawkers were like cattle being driven to their kraal at sunset by an irate Fulani herdsman.
But we were also informed that the exercise had lost the wicked sternness originally associated with it and turned friendly, particularly at Tudu, Kinbu and Makola front streets, with some of the Supervisors and their boys taking the female traders friends and sisters.
“Aaba ei” has always been synonymous with Government high-handedness in instilling sanity in the Central Business District of Accra. For once, traders and Assemblymen, including major stakeholders believe Ghana is getting there in developing strategies that could inform other Governments in the sub-region about how mutual relations between street traders and State players ought to be maintained.
The next hurdle, however, is how not to allow traders or other such stakeholders to hold the balls of politicians, when genuine development or infrastructural redesigning becomes necessary to the point of relocation some traders – especially when it is evident that Accra or the CBD, for that matter, needs permanent redesigning to create space and turf for more players in effort to modernize.