Displaced traders scramble for space at Odawna (Back Page)

The traders scrambling for space


THE movement of traders from the Novotel Park to the Odawna Pedestrian Shopping Mall yesterday was characterised by blows and verbal exchanges as the women scrambled for positions to sell their wares.

Using cement blocks, plywood, tables, chairs, clothes and even their own bodies, the women demarcated their positions. In the ensuing melee, chairs and tables flew around, accompanied by physical and verbal brawls.

The market women, who took over the offloading bay meant for trucks to deliver goods, accused the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) of discrimination.

They contended that even though the AMA had assured them of a place to settle, they were refused entry into the main market.

However, others told the Daily Graphic that the main market had no space to contain all of them, hence the need to find places outside.

The main market was, however, calm, with the traders going about their business in an orderly manner. Some of the stalls remained unoccupied, with a few chairs and tables scattered around.

An official of the AMA, Mr Dizzy Quaye, denied the women’s claim, saying, “We have done all we can to bring them to the market but they refused.”

He blamed the situation on one Maxwell Mingle, saying he was responsible for it.

According to him, the said Mingle claimed to have been empowered by the Greater Accra Regional Minister, Nii Armah Ashitey, to protect the interest of the women.

“Most of the women were in the main market but as soon as he arrived he manipulated them to leave with their belongings,” Mr Quaye said.

The final batch of market women who started relocating from the Novotel Park in response to an ultimatum from the AMA and the regional co-ordinating council expressed disappointment with the city authorities.

“The AMA ejected us from Novotel only to turn its back on us. Where does it expect us to go when we are being thrown off the street?” one queried.

As the commotion over who stayed where continued, a Deputy Chief of Staff, Dr Valerie Sawyer, arrived on the scene and urged the women to exercise restraint, as everything was being done to make their stay at the new market comfortable.

Speaking to the Daily Graphic, Dr Sawyer said her visit was to see for herself how the women were settling in the market.

Meanwhile, at the Novotel Park, bulldozers razed down structures and pulled down trees, reducing the structures of some recalcitrant market women into a pile of rubble.

The demolition exercise started at dawn, in the presence of armed police officers and with the support of the AMA Task Force.

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