Remember your promise to us -Traders remind Nana Addo
Informal Hawkers and Vendors Association of Ghana (IHVAG) and Greater Accra Market Association (GAMA), two traders’ associations, are imploring President Akufo-Addo to remember his promise to traders at the Odawna Market and other markets whose businesses had been ravaged by fire.
The IHVAG and GAMA entreated the President to take immediate steps to implement his promise on November 19, last year, to support the over 3,000 affected traders who lost their means of livelihoods in the Odawna Market fire with grant funding through the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI).
Contained in a press statement authored by Anas Ibrahim, President of IHVAG, and Mercy Needjan, President of GAMA, and copied to The Chronicle, the groups expressed worry about how their members are left to their fate whenever fire destroys their investments.
The statement said: “Traders in Accra and Kumasi have experienced multiple fires before the 2020 general election, all which demonstrated the disturbing occupational hazards informal workers are subjected to. The most devastating was the Odawna Market fire, which swept through the Pedestrian Mall.
“IHVAG and GAMA can confirm from fellow traders/workers that the fire left 3,500 shops ravaged, and that goods worth thousands of cedis went up in smoke, and these same traders were to face the daunting task of piecing their businesses back together.
“Unfortunately, it’s not the first time workers have seen their livelihoods burnt to the ground. In 2013, a fatal fire affected the same market. In 2015, an explosion at a petrol station near the market killed 150 people. In January 2019, at least, 80 stalls at the Odawna Market were burnt beyond recognition. The response from the relevant authorities has merely been to offer sympathy.
“Over the period, we haven’t seen any practical interventions for preventing fires happening in the future. Workers have been left struggling to do business with no assistance. The repetitive nature of these incidents is the clearest testament that officials have done very little to confront this danger of fire to prevent its recurrence.”
The groups, therefore, called on the government to urgently provide safe and secure working environments for traders, following the series of fires that have devastated the livelihoods of their members.
They further urged President Akufo-Addo to take immediate steps to implement his promise to improve the infrastructure of markets by undertaking “a project of rewiring all major markets in the capital” and report on their progress through their respective metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs).
Again, they suggested a full scale investigation into the causes of the fire be opened across all the affected markets and the reports discussed with the traders especially on the causes of the fire outbreak and a designation of, at least, one fire tender with officers stationed at the pedestrian shopping mall and all other major markets across the city.
Besides, they called for the training and equipping of traders on firefighting skills and provide fire extinguishers at vantage points in the markets
Lastly, the groups suggested regular visits by the MMDAs to inspect electrical connections in the markets.