Assemblies must be proactive, not reactive

BY: Daily Graphic
Assemblies must be  proactive, not reactive
Assemblies must be proactive, not reactive

The refusal by the various metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) to enforce bye-laws in their respective jurisdictions is the cause of the heavy congestion at the marketplaces. It is also the reason many streets meant to enhance vehicular flow have been taken over by hawkers.

It is a fact that due to the various challenges in the economy, many people, in their quest to earn a living, have taken to hawking or any form of selling to make ends meet.

On the streets of Accra and other cities, including Kumasi, Sunyani, Koforidua, Cape Coast and Tamale, many people, young and old, male and female, scramble for space in order to catch the attention of pedestrians to buy their wares.

In many instances, hawkers who do not find space are forced to, first, take over pavements, then portions of the streets and eventually block a whole lane, reducing a multi-lane road to two or one, in many instances.

Ironically, these law breakers are let off the hook because the assemblies whose duty it is to clear them off the streets and pavements rather collect money from them, most of which are not accounted for.

This allows the hawkers to become so entrenched it takes a lot of resources to remove them from those unauthorised places anytime there is a public uproar for them to be removed.

The Daily Graphic finds the attitude of the MMDAs most appalling and unfortunate because of the filth that the hawkers generate. Aside from that, they contribute to the heavy traffic seen in many areas because, in some instances, two or three lanes are reduced to one, while the assemblies sit aloof.

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The Ashaiman Municipal Assembly has, since last Friday, embarked on a decongestion exercise to clear hawkers from the streets and pavements in the municipality.

The exercise is in response to an accident that occurred last Thursday in which one person died and six others got injured when a vehicle veered off its lane and ran into traders selling along the shoulders of the road.

Members of the Ashaiman Municipal Guards pulled down kiosks and other structures that inhibited the free movement of vehicles and persons.

Much as the exercise is necessary, it is regrettable that the assembly turned a blind eye to the illegality until that unfortunate incident occurred to claim that innocent life and injured many others.

The paper believes that the time has come for MMDAs to live up to their responsibilities by enforcing bye-laws to the letter. We cannot wait for such incidents to happen before we undertake fire fighting for a few days, only to relax for the same people who have been removed to come back.

While we urge political leaders not to interfere with the actions taken by MMDAs, we also ask the public to fully support any move to decongest the cities and allow for the free flow of pedestrians and vehicles.

We cannot continue to live in a lawless society where self-seeking people deliberately renege on their responsibilities in the name of politics and allow people to break the law in the name of ‘no work’.

There are many innovative means by which our brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers can sell their wares to earn a living without being allowed to flock the streets to create congestion and inconvenience and more so risk their lives.

It is our hope that this exercise, just like many others, will not be a nine-day wonder. Again we urge other assemblies to do same to decongest the streets.