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Regional News of Monday, 20 April 2020


Coronvirus: Stigmatization killing our businesses – Kpong abolo sellers lament

Some of the abolo sellers Some of the abolo sellers

Abolo sellers in Kpong in the eastern region report instances of stigmatization and intimidation as fear and uncertainty follow the spread of the Coronavirus across the region.

With 51 confirmed cases of the epidemic reported in the Eastern region, with at least 31 from the railways construction firm, Afcons Infrastructure Limited, the sellers have complained bitterly about stigmatization from passengers as a result of the reported cases of COVID-19 in the area.

The traders in an interview said passengers in moving vehicles shoved them away when they approached them with their food, the reason being that their community was an infected area.

The traders, mostly women, said the passengers cited the outbreak of the virus in the Kpong-based Camp ‘B’ of the construction firm as basis for their actions.

“There are a lot of rumours flying around that the Kpong community is infected with the virus, that the Chinese (Indians) have infected us with the sickness (COVID-19) and due to this, the passengers don’t even want to buy from us,” Adwoa, a bitter fried yam seller complained.

Another woman, a one-man-thousand seller who identified herself as Babe, had similar complaints. She denied allegations of sexual activities between the expatriates and the abolo sellers as being speculated.

“They say the Indians working on the railway project have infected us with the coronavirus and have even slept with some of us,” said Babe.

“This is really affecting our work. People no longer buy from us.”

The sellers who said selling Abolo and other food items remain their only source of livelihood have thus made a passionate appeal to government to address their challenges

But low sales arising out of stigmatization isn’t their only challenge.

The traders also attributed the phenomenon to the recent lockdown in the Greater Accra as travellers who usually plied the Kpong-Accra-Tema road who happened to be the chunk of their customers, were no longer on the road.

“Travellers from Accra and Tema who travelled to the Eastern and Volta regions and from the Volta and parts of the Eastern region through Kpong formed the chunk of our customers,” said Esi, an abolo seller who added that "with the lockdown, the situation is no longer the case."

The lockdown policy means people are no longer travelling and sales have reduced to almost zero.

The stagnant sales, according to the sellers is also partly to blame on the President’s directive banning all social gatherings and the stay at home policy announced to contain the spread of the coronavirus as people preferred to stay at home.

The traders described the low level of sales as unprecedented and a serious drain on their income – affecting their investments and business expansions.

Only a handful of sellers were seen in brisk business compared to the several huge numbers usually seen. With practically no customers to sell to, majority of the sellers have decided to be home, at least until the COVID-19 pandemic is over.