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Night trade booms at Kwame Nkrumah Circle: Traders do brisk business to evade tax, market tolls

BY: Lydia Ezit
The night market is lucrative for some traders
The night market is lucrative for some traders

Trading in the night is becoming popular among some traders at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle because it offers them an opportunity to evade tax and the payment of market tolls to city authorities.

Besides, the traders claim they trade at night to avoid harassment from city authorities since they have the liberty to spread their wares on the pavement and some parts of the street.

Traders, who revealed their unusual business hours to The Mirror, added that the night market was lucrative.

The Mirror observed that most of the traders covered their wares with waterproof material during the day to prevent direct exposure to sunlight and rainfall.

Circle at night
At night, this practice is visible around the Kwame Nkrumah Water Fountain, GCB Bank, the pedestrian shopping mall, the top of the shoulders of the interchange at Vienna City and some walkways within the Circle enclave.

There were unauthorised structures erected on the pavements and other places by the traders.

Display of shoes for sale on the shoulder of the interchange

Human and vehicular traffic congestion characterised most of these trading points at night, creating chaos as customers and pedestrians meandered through to their destinations.

In addition, there was neither an observation of social distancing nor the wearing of face masks which are part of the COVID-19 protocols.

Activities were brisk at some parts of the Kwame Nkrumah Circle which are known markets for the swapping of phones and gambling.

Although city authorities occasionally decongest the area by taking the traders off the pavement, the traders return after the exercise.

Sleeping hub
The Kwame Nkrumah overpass has also become a trading and sleeping hub for a section of the public.

The 74.88-million-euro project, popularly known as Dubai, was constructed to ease human and vehicular traffic and to beautify the city.

The Mirror’s rounds confirmed that commercial drivers and their mates, hawkers and the mentally ill use the spaces under the overpass as their resting and sleeping places.

Some of these squatters sleep close to the Overhead Powerlines (OHPLS), in blatant disregard for the danger associated with living close to transformers and OHPLS.

The space beneath the flyover serves as storage for some traders

Some of these people were also found lying on the floor just before the SSNIT Head Office at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle.

A portion of the space beneath the flyover decorated with stones serves as storage for some hawkers.

The city’s bye-laws do not allow pedestrians and traders to transact business in this area.

Culprits
Some traders told The Mirror that some of the squatters who slept under the overpass were long-journey drivers.

Some of them explained that though they knew it was not the right place to rest, they just did so “for fresh air”.

A phone seller on the Tip Toe Lane at Circle, Wofa Agyei, said the area had bus terminals which transported people and goods to countries such as Nigeria, Mali and other parts of West Africa, adding that it was normal for the drivers of such vehicles to rest at any part of the overpass while waiting for their vehicles to be loaded.

One of the pavement markets around the Kwame Nkrumah water fountain

“They sleep and when they need water, they would just shout out to a pure water seller and buy and this boosts the business of hawkers,” he said.

A book seller who gave her name as Mavis wondered how some of the squatters managed to sit among the stones under the overpass since they appeared sharp.

Okada business
Motorbikes used for commercial transport, known as ‘okada’, thrive at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle.

They remain a good option for those who want to quickly escape the traffic in Accra to various destinations.

The motorbikes were in queues as their operators called out to potential customers.

They vied for parking space and passengers with trotros and taxis.