Petty Traders Want Gov’t’s Action Plan

The traders with their executives after the press conference.

The United Traders Forum (UTF), an organized group of micro traders, has appealed passionately to city authorities to institute comprehensive plans for the benefit of poor traders and vendors on the streets to ensure accelerated development.

They said many countries, especially in South America, have succeeded in implementing ambitious projects that enabled their cities to cope with street hawking and other petty trading while at the same time managing the cities very well.

“In taking cue from best practices in other parts of the world, we urge city authorities to adopt a more cordial relationship, and to create congenial environment to enable all micro traders to have space to do their business in peace and in dignity,” the General Secretary Frederick Opoku said at a news conference in Accra yesterday.

He said “our extensive research has shown that in some countries, authorities are taking a more positive view of informal trade as contributing to the economic life of the city and engaging in more collaborative approaches to the recurrent cycles of eviction and return of hawkers.

Citing many examples, Mr. Opoku said “from Lima, Peru in 2014, the City Council passed an Ordinance giving the city government the responsibility for including street vendors in economic development, providing them with protections.”

“From 1988 to 2003, Bogota’s Mayorsin Colombia implemented one of the most ambitious public space campaigns in Latin America, working with informal vendor unions to relocate them to government-built markets, resulting in improved working conditions, though declining income levels.”

Mr. Opoku said “through sustained dialogue and Public – Private Partnership (PPP) to invest nearly $7 million of municipal funds and 60 million of private capital in some 50 shopping centres and markets available to vendors, Peruvian officials were able to relocate some 20,000 street vendors.

“In Belo Horizonte, Brazil, four shopping malls for vendors have been created by the municipality since 2006 in locations where streets vendors used to be concentrated…right at the city centre.”

He said that “comparatively, in Ghana, the subject is different. Municipal and Districts Assemblies adopt Machiavellian tactics against street traders to resolving the mess, leading to clashes, attacks and humiliating events, largely affecting the micro trader.”

They appealed to the city authorities to invest in construction of what they called “more static markets and also initiate mobile satellite markets across all central business districts to provide the space for micro trade.

“The satellite markets, when adopted, would enable streets trading to be regulated and monitored for economic prosperity.

“The creation of satellite markets would create commercial trading space for more than 2 million streets hawkers and traders alike,” Mr. Opoku said.

“Under Dr. Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije as AMA boss, city guard’s engagements resulted in thousands of street traders and hawkers being brutalized, humiliated and beaten.”

They expressed hope that the incoming AMA Boss Nii Adjei Sowah and other heads in other cities in the country would not adopt ‘crude tactics’ against petty traders and wished him well in advance.

Mr. Opoku urged government to implement existing laws to stop the direct involvement of foreigners in the retail market.

The UTF also commended the government for what it called ‘pro-poor’ budget presented by Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta.

They said the budget, when carefully implemented, would help many people, including petty traders, to create wealth and improve the standard of living in the country.

By William Yaw Owusu