Over three thousand traders, commercial drivers, and truck drivers who ply their trade at the Western Regional Market and lorry station in Agbogbloshie Market in Accra are on the verge of losing their sources of livelihood as the market is allegedly being taken over by the Vice President, Dr Mahmud Bawumia, for the construction of hostels and toilets for head porters (Kayayei) in Accra.
The foundation is currently being dug in more than half of the land in preparation for the start of the project.
The traders and drivers claim to have lived on that plot of land for over 40 years, only to arrive at work on Monday to discover that their properties on the land had been destroyed.
Five vehicles stationed on the land at the time of the operation were towed to the Accra Metropolitan Assembly’s office (AMA).
The drivers claim they had to pay 5,000 Ghana cedis (GHc5,000) each before they were released.
They had no choice but to seek assistance from two of their members of parliament, Dorcas Afo Toffey for Jomoro and Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah for Elembelle.
Madam Afo Toffey explained to traders and drivers in Accra that when she received the call about their ejection without notification, she called the Greater Accra Regional Minister, Henry Quartey, who denied knowledge of the ejection.
She said the Minister told her the location is not under his jurisdiction, but rather that of Accra’s Mayor, Elizabeth Sackey. She assured them that what is happening to them is affecting her as well, and that she will do everything she can to get to the bottom of the problem, and that even if the land is taken, they will be relocated.
“What the government wants to do by building a hostel and toilet on the land is not a bad idea,” Madam Afo Toffey said in Twi.
She stated that over 2000 women are trading on that parcel of land, and if such land is taken away from them, they will be unable to provide for their families, as women are the ones who take care of their homes.
“If the government is doing such things for the Kayayei, then traders and drivers also need a befitting place to do their business and not to push them away”. She promised to meet with the Mayor of Accra to resolve the issue amicably.
Brigadier-General Nana Adu, a retired Army officer and truck owner who operates at the station, said he does not understand why the government must take such action. He admitted that the government can take land for such development but taking it by force is not the right way to go about it.
He said that there should have been a dialogue with the people for peace to reign. Brigadier-General Adu stated that an arrangement should have been made as to where the occupiers would be taken, but for the government to wait until Friday when the area is calm before storming in with police and military to take over is not the right way.
“We know the army and the police are controlled by the government and so the moment these people came to take over the place for the construction of the project, we are convinced the government has a hand in it”.
National Secretary for Coconut Oil Dealers Association, J. B. Gbolor, called for an injunction on the project until the determination of the matter.
He said day in and day, the contractor is bringing construction equipment unto the lord which is not in their interest. The Chairman of the Drivers Union who gave his name as Life explained that the station receives trucks from the Ivory Coast and Nigeria with goods and as such taking over the place would affect such businesses.
He stated that because of what has occurred, all of the women are stranded, which will have an impact on them. The Chairman stated that those who arrived were armed, but they do not want any violence and preferred an amicable resolution to the issue.
Some of the traders have petitioned President Akufo-Addo and Dr Bawumia, whose name has been mentioned, to halt the project because the location is vital to their livelihood. Some of the traders have petitioned President Akufo-Addo and Dr Bawumia, whose name has been mentioned, to halt the project because the location is vital to their livelihood.