AMA Taskforce Unleashes Violence On Traders
Ghanaians are enraged over the inhumane and unprofessional manner the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) taskforce is handling an ongoing exercise at the Agbogbloshie Market to ward off traders who have displayed their foodstuff on pavements and streets in the city, as part of its sanitation campaign.
What would have been a smooth exercise has turned out to be chaotic, with the taskforce, led by AMA environmental health officers, and traders engaging in fisticuffs in the full glare of the public.
Many believe the AMA should have rather engaged the services of the police to undertake the arrests of recalcitrant traders, rather than using its taskforce.
A confrontation, which has been condemned by many, ensued yesterday, Wednesday, February 8, when the AMA environmental health inspectors stormed the rather busy business centre in the city.
The health officers, The Anchor gathered, went to the Agbogbloshie Yam Market to continue their special operation to drive away traders who haddisplayed their wares on the bare ground and at unauthorized places.
Unfortunately, the otherwise well-intended exercise, geared towards applying the sanitation laws and making the markets cleaner and safer, degenerated into something else.
The operation affected yam sellers plying their trade at Agbogbloshie who, just like others including plantain sellers, display their wares on the bare ground, a practice which is common in various markets in the country.
It is unclear what triggered the confrontation, but reports say the AMA officers had tried to arrest the young yam sellers for offending the law.
In their blue shirts and blue-black apparel, the officers in the process landed on the displayed yams on the ground with the offending traders, while the public looked on amazed.
While some have described the act as unprofessional, others argued that these traders are too difficult and that it will take some of these confrontations to get results.
Though the officers succeeded in arresting the sellers, this paper cannot tell how many were arrested and what process they will be taken through and whether the practice can be stopped by mere arrests of these traders.
The exercise, dubbed “Clean Ghana campaign,” is a partnership between the AMA and the Multimedia Group. The initiative that seeks to help enforce waste management laws and educate the general public on how to manage waste has been ongoing for some years, but it was put on hold for the last part of last year.
The latest act is similar to what happened last Wednesday, February 1, when AMA environmental health officers who embarked on routine environmental education at the same Agbogbloshie Yam Market in Accra were attacked and chased out of the place.
… were at the market to educate traders on how to maintain effective hygiene in the place.
During their interaction with the traders, it was identified that some of the traders had displayed vegetables on pallets covering filthy gutters on the main road, which is contrary to the AMA’s environmental bye-laws.
As a result, Madam Kuukyi quickly ordered the AMA taskforce to arrest the offenders and seize their displayed foodstuff.
However, this did not go down well with the offenders, and a fierce confrontation broke out between members of the taskforce and the traders.
In the process, the angry traders overpowered the taskforce and freed a boy, who was under arrest.
The situation attracted other young men who came to loot the foodstuff that were seized and packed in one of the AMA vehicles.
Despite the intervention of an MTTD Police officer, the volatile situation brought the programme to a momentary halt, but Madam Kuukyi and her colleague, Joseph Asitanga, later reorganized themselves to carry on the exercise.
Somehow, the news of the fracas got to the Accra mayor, Madam Elizabeth Sackey, who rushed to the scene to bring the situation under control.
The mayor, upon seeing how the traders had displayed foodstuff at unhygienic places, ordered their arrest, hence 13 of them were arrested. Concerning the attack on her environmental health officers, she described it as unfortunate.
“These people are fond of doing that, either they attack you or they throw stones at you and others and I warned them to desist from it. If they have gone to the extent of fighting my officers, it tells you the next time it will be me and I will not take it lightly and that is there should be an action now,” Madam Elizabeth Sackey said.
On that same Wednesday February 1, 2023, the officers arrested some 23 traders at the Agbogbloshie Market for selling foodstuff on bare ground and under unhygienic conditions.
From foodstuff overexposed to sunlight, to displaying food items on the streets near choked gutters, the officials were incensed by the level of disregard for hygiene standards.
Expressing her disappointment in the traders on their disregard for the Assembly’s bye-laws on sanitation, Mayor Elizabeth Sackey ordered the immediate removal of traders selling on streets into the markets where they have sheds.
The AMA boss decried that some of the traders after all the education and engagements over the years against displaying their goods on the bare ground and at unauthorized places still continue to go contrary, adding that the Assembly would not show any mercy in dealing with such offenders anymore hence the arrest.