Abossey Okai: Ghana’s auto spare part mecca

Right across Asamoah’s shop, a back-breaking task of lifting an engine onto a truck ensues. There, about five men, drenched in sweat, struggle to fit the engine on a lever, which would eventually do the lifting onto the car.

A group of barefooted and shirtless boys run in circles after a deflated football, much to the annoyance of a woman selling banku and fried fish.

Another day is in motion at Abossey Okai—Ghana’s auto spare part mecca. So alluring is the reputation of Abossey Okai in the spare part industry in Ghana that it has become a refrain that ‘if you do not get the car spare part you want at Abossey Okai, then you may as well sell your car to scrap metal dealers’

Sandwiched between Kaneshie and Korle Bu, Abossey Okai is a pandemonium of homes and vendor’s multi storey building, stalls and table top shops crammed with auto spare part and accessories imaginable– including engines, pistons, brake pads, lights, bumper, doors, spark plugs, ignition switch, radiators, windshields, mirrors,rims, fan belts and camshaft—the list is in exhaustive.

On a busy day, both sellers and buyers bob and weave through a maze of endless narrow alleyways in search of bread and antidote for ailing cars.

The cocktail of activities is a blend of customer calls, anxious customers in search of auto parts, sweet-tongue middlemen convincing rather anxious customers, car horns and radio music mingled with the snarling engines of okada operators in search of patrons and the roar of air compressors in oily-vulcanising shops.

The secondhand auto parts business flourished as more Ghanaians invest in used vehicles that require regular servicing. The parts are popular because they are usually cheaper.

With more than 10,000 shops and stalls and 30,000 traders in its belly, the spare part district is pregnant with several challenges from its history.

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