Be ready to bear the pain if you want cities to look good – Nat Nunoo Amarteifio

Former Mayor of Accra, Nat Nunoo Amarteifio says Ghanaians must bear the ‘unpleasant’ situation of authorities driving hawkers off the streets to maintain discipline in urban centres.

Mr. Amarteifio noted that the situation where powerful persons in higher authority wade into city authorities’ move to clear the streets off hawkers, is the bane of ensuring sanity in the central business districts.

“If we want this situation of clogged streets resolved, we must be ready to bear the pain of having people chased off the streets into places where they can trade,” he stressed.

Speaking on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM Thursday, Mr Amarteifio bemoans the lack of a political structure that empowers the chief executives to deal with unlawful trading activities in the cities.

“…every time a mayor tries to stop hawkers from the streets, all he gets is a two-day of press applause after which the press comes down on him for not putting in a human face into their endeavour and the political representatives in parliament issue statement especially when their people are affected in this move.

“So, we expect our authorities to do more than we give them the ability to solve our problems,” he stated.

To deal effectively with this, Mr. Amarteifio supported the call for Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) to be elected rather than being appointed by the president as it is practised currently.  

“So long as they are not elected and they are nominated, people can blackmail them by insinuating that since their party came to power they are being victimised and when that get to the powers that be they will react”.

Restructuring markets                 

Contributing to the discussion, Mr Osei Kwame Agyemang, immediate-past president of the Ghana Institute of Architects believes there is the urgent need for restructuring markets in the central business districts.

It should be planned such that it can accommodate hawkers and address issues of traffic congestion, he stated.

He noted further that most market centres are outmoded, while authorities appeared not to have immediate plans for them.

“People have different concepts of what commercial or urban space is….Pedestrians believe that this is a walkway but the one who has a shop at Adabraka thinks it is a part of his shop space and it creates conflicts”.

Authorities disinterest
Meanwhile, vice president of policy think tank, IMANI-Ghana, Kofi Bentil says city authorities only serve their personal interest but not to enforce the law.

“What it takes to run Accra is within the capability in the AMA to marshal; the issue is that they don’t have an interest in actually doing it. Too many of their [AMA] officials are only interested in …collecting bribes than implementing the rule.

“These people who are hawking, they are not stupid; their capital is very volatile…so if there is a certainty that he is going to lose his wares he is going to go to a place where he is safest,” he said.

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