The title of this piece may appear a little confusing since there is no reported news of the presence of gold deposits at the La Beach.
I am talking about a new phenomenon I experienced at the beach last weekend. So please do not invade the beach looking for gold based on the headline, just read.
There is no doubt that the La Beach is the most patronised beach in the country despite the pockets of issues such as unclean environment, activities by miscreants and tricksters, poor security among others.
Aside being a serene place for relaxation, the place has hosted events headlined by both local and international musicians over years. The place is becoming a hotspot for entertainment shows gradually resulting in the growing of what is known as “Galamsey” at the beach which is my topic for today.
But before I tackle the ‘Galamsey’ issue, let me deviate a little and talk about something which has led to many event organisers shifting their attention to the beach and making the business of the “Galamsey” lucrative.
The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Mrs Elizabeth Ofosu-Adjare has made a call to the private sector to compliment the government’s efforts by helping build bigger capacity venues in the country to help take off pressure on the existing venues.
This appeal was made when she witnessed the out-dooring of a-600-seater multipurpose conferencing and entertainment centre at the Labadi Beach Hotel recently.
I think the Minister’s call has come as a result of the growth in the numbers of event organisers and shows in the country. This proliferation of new event organisers has resulted in a huge increase in events in the country.
It goes without saying that when the numbers of event organising companies grow drastically, it is expected that, places to organise events will increase too, so organisers will have no excuse whatsoever to charge ridiculous fees from patrons. Meanwhile, the existing venues have no hope of expansion and there are no signs of new ones springing up.
It is so disturbing that after 57 years of gaining independence, Ghana still lacks very big and spacious venues to hold events despite the increase in entertainment events.
In 2012, the Dome, which is situated at the Accra International Conference Centre, with about 6,000 seating capacity was closed down for rehabilitation. With no sign of it being re-opened any time soon, most event organisers these days, depend on and rotate the following venues for their events; the Accra International Conference Centre, which seats about 2,500 people, the National Theatre, which seats about 1,500 and the stadia for shows.
Now it doesn’t look like the Dome will be back any time soon as it has been officially declared an illegal structure on government premises. According to a 2012 Auditor-General’s report, Creator Digital Company, owners of the tent structure are reported to have never paid rent to the government for occupying that car park that the tent is situated on.
Lack of bigger venues has forced event organisers to charge ridiculous fees for events, especially those without meaningful sponsorship. This has generally affected attendance to events as most patrons are not ready to cough up as much as GHc100 and more for any show whatsoever.
In order not to go out of business, most event companies have resorted to using other venues and this is where La Beach, a spacious venue comes into the picture. The beach can accommodate as many as 100,000 people. That explains why reasonable fees are charged at the beach.
Even with the GHc10 or less charged some of the time, the money does not go to the event organisers but ends up in the pockets of individuals due to the activities of the “Galamseyers”.
Last week, a show dubbed Night Train Beach Jam was organised at the La Beach by LiveWire Event and had artistes such as Shatta Wale, Sarkodie, D-Black, Stonebwoy and others in performance. According to the organisers, the show recorded about 5,000 patrons. However, I’m certain the organisers may not get all the money supposed to have been accrued from gate proceeds. This is because the activities of the “Galamseyers” came to play.
The “Galamseyers” at the beach are the people who loiter around the entrance of the beach and welcome and approach anyone who wants to go to the beach.
When they approach you, they tell you they can take you to the beach at a reduced price. Your aim is to go to the beach right? Fine! You then agree and pay the reduced price to them. Since the people manning the gates are their ‘friends’, they ‘sort them out’ and you are allowed to enter, then they pocket the rest of the money. Smart and easy, isn’t it? What makes this so easy is the fact that, there is more than one entrance to the beach.
So now, the organiser who has paid huge sums of money to the artistes and done extensive publicity to promote the show has lost to a “Galamseyer”. One of the ‘Galamseyers’ tells me, “Chale, man must chop, you know. This is what we do and we make a lot of from this” as he shared several other means by which they take people inside and pocket the money.
According to him, sometimes they(Galamseyers) will smear sand on your legs and then ask you to go towards the gates. The ‘Galamseyer’ rushes to the gate to inform those manning it that you are already in but had to come out for a reason. He then follows you inside to collect and pocket the money.
It’s difficult to spot the activities of these “Galamseyers” because they do this with the connivance of the people entrusted to man the gate. So you see, even at the beach, the event organisers are not safe.
This is the more reason why Ghana needs more spacious event venues right. Thus the private sector must heed to the Honourable Minister’s call!