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Opinions of Monday, 9 October 2017

Columnist: Caroline Boateng

Traders take over ministries


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The ministries, an area in the heart of the Accra city that hosts most governmental offices, has been overrun by trading and hawking.

On walls, fences, in cars and on pavements, traders hung suits, trousers, shirts and dresses to attract workers.

Two enterprising men roast tilapia by the side of their car on hot coals and dish them out with hot banku (cooked corn dough) from ice chests in the boot of their vehicle for hungry workers, while some others roast ripe plantain, hawk fruits and sell coconut at the entrances to the ministries, just by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and the Audit Service.

Trading everywhere

In between the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Energy, along the sides of the driveway, hawkers have displayed their wares on tables and sit under umbrellas to shade themselves and their wares from the heat.

Similarly, on the stretch of the road from the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to the Ghana Highway Authority (GHA) one finds traders selling coconut, various foods and fruits, carrier bags, perfumery and toiletries, shirts, socks, shoes, bags and mobile phone credits.

Endeavouring to live

Random interviews conducted with some of the hawkers revealed that they were trying to make ends meet
Others said business was good, hence their continued efforts to hawk and trade in the environs.

Some also sold their wares in the traffic towards the Ministries Police Station area.

For some with more permanent structures, the Daily Graphic found that they had been given the permission by the Town and Country Planning Department, while the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) collects taxes and levies from them.

Resources

The Senior Minister, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo has, however, given hints of plans to give the ministries and its environs a facelift.
He gave the indication on the sidelines of a lecture organised by the Centre for Democratic Governance (CDD) in Accra last Tuesday.
He said the facelift at the ministries would include convenience facilities and cafeteria for workers.

“We are seriously considering giving the whole area a facelift. But you must understand that we cannot immediately ask these traders to leave as they are also endeavouring to eke out a living,” he said.

What is hindering the immediate implementation of the plans are finances and humanitarian considerations.

Asked for timelines, Mr Osafo-Maafo replied, “It is also about money; the resources to get the facilities built for workers, before preventing hawking.”

Background

As part of the public sector reforms in 2006, when the Single Spine Pay Policy (SSPP) was adopted, the Ministries and its environs were off limits to hawkers and traders.

Under the Minister of Public Sector Reform then, Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom, public sector reforms were to encompass a ban on trading at the ministries.

The area was to be dedicated solely for government business and clients requiring services.
These measures were, however, not long lasting.

Since then, the pay policy has been carried through, but other aspects of public sector reform for improved performance and productivity have not been achieved.

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