The major cities of Ghana are famous for their economic and commercial hub. As such road users in and within Accra as well as tourist are always confronted with the dense presence of people from all walks of life moving back and forth on along principal road pavements of Accra with various items offered for sale.
Pedestrian and passengers alike as well as anyone interested in buying stuff are always engaged with a wide range of household and outdoor items offered for sale. Some of these products range from snacks, drinking water, toiletries, stationeries, cutleries, gadget peripherals and many others. They immediately rush towards vehicles once they are made to stop either by the traffic light or traffic warden in various traffic locations.
These vendors who spend a huge chunk of the day screaming on the top of their voices in order to attract prospective buyers attention are also forced to run recklessly along moving vehicles just to take monies of items collected without payments by buyers who are driven away while in the process of trading. Due to the fact that the traffic light or police has ordered drivers to move.
This prime activity of sellers who range from both the young and old do not only pose a threat to society but also danger on themselves. Taking into consideration the risk involved with doing business right under the scorching sun for long hours, as well as being faced with the terrible possibility of getting knocked down by moving vehicles, seizing of goods by local authorities and pick pocketing among others. Both vehicular motorist and by passers seem oblivious to the susceptible plight of these hawkers who are busily involved in high risk levels of trading on a daily basis in the hope of improving standards of living.
Among the numerous hazards that looms around this risky adventure, what is the state of street hawkers during the rainy season? Business Day sought to find out.
It appears hawking has no breaks since the outdoor market activity which operates during almost all times of the day also takes place within all types of weather conditions. Perhaps these hawkers are not themselves perturbed by the vulnerabilities posed by the continuous torrential weather during this time of the year. One will logically expert that street hawkers take a pause from business at least until the end of the rainy season.
However, some hawkers have made it known to Business DAY news that they prefer to deal only in seasonal goods. And as such for a season like this, the sale of goods like umbrellas, raincoats, windscreen wipers just to name a few are only appropriate for the street market during this time of the year.
One question that seems begging is that 'DO HAWKERS REALISE THE UNSAFE NATURE OF DOING BUSINESS DURING THE RAINY SEASON?
A street hawker who gave his name as kobby and plies his trade at east legon-Emmanuel Eye Clinic area a suburb of Accra disclosed "our business has become very lucrative over the years and I have manage build a life out of it. Living in the slums is always better as compared to sleeping on the streets and pedestrian lanes or even under a bridges. During this time of the year we are faced with quite a number of challenges. The rains indeed serves as a threat not only to our lives but also to our products. Some of which are friable to the rains and must be completely shielded at all times"
Other street vendors alluding to kobby's accession claimed the rains showers destroyed business equipment such as tables and chairs that were left exposed to the heavy downpours. "We have no spaces to keep our furniture which are often left in open air "a vendor remarked. In extreme cases some street hawkers and vendors have had to leave their furniture with strangers and acquaintances who live close by their business streets.
The recent rains has recorded a tremendous destruction of lives and properties. Other victims have also suffered the pain of only looking on as flood waters washed away their personal belongings and means of livelihood. Street hawkers who often loiter around flood prone areas including Circle, graphic road and kaneshie are often expose to danger at these major hawking zones in the country during the raining season.
In June of 2015, Ghana recorded the worst flood disaster in its history when over 200 lives perished as a result of a fire outbreak from a gas station due to chaos brought about by flood waters. Among those who were feared dead, it is recorded a huge number of these victims were found to be street hawkers.
Other causes of the flood was as a result of improper planning of settlement in Accra, largely caused by rural natives who come into urban cities in search of employment. Upon arrival, these settlers who were forced to engage in street hawking were also compelled to put up the illegal structures to serve as homes in the city. Most of these unlawful structures that were built along water ways also blocked drainage systems eventually causing the demise of numerous civilian lives
The current state of Accra's population is rather alarming the numbers are estimated to rise by the end of the year. Due to the influx of more migrants permanently making settlement in urban centers. We have over the years seen consequences of street hawking and it is a wakeup call to the government of Ghana in particular to eliminate the disturbing menace.
It is long overdue policy makers include the controlling of street hawking operations in the country to its overall road safety objective. The lives of every citizen is important and hawkers must not be left out. Their lives and unknown future must be protected.