Pictures were taken by AFAG (Alliance for Accountable Governance)
Calm has been restored after a stand off between the Kantamanto Traders and Ghana Police. Sunday May 5, 2013 marked the day Kantamanto Market bellowed in smoke. Two days later it is evident that there is a clear distrust between the traders of Kanatamanto Market and Government represented by The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA). Traders fervently guard what once was their market stalls in fear of it being redistributed unfairly to Government officials and their cronies should the AMA’s plan to rebuild a modern market materialise.
Police were forced to shoot rubber bullets and teargas into the crowds on the scene during the past two days as desperate traders tried to guard the remains of their stalls.
Kantamanto as we know it is no more. What remains are the foundations of this once bustling but dangerous market. Dangerous because of the the narrow and uneven walkways , illegal electricity connections, no clear exits and the haphazard way the market was constructed and over 10 000 traders in small confined space. We can all be grateful that no lives were lost during the fire
I overheard a man on his phone discussing the fire which broke out. His friend, he remarked, lost 40 000 GHS cash which he had been hiding in his market stall. He has nothing left, his goods were all burnt in the fire. I am sure that there are many similar stories of losses by traders.
What I would remind the AMA and our Ghanaian Government is that this is not just about rebuilding a modern Market. Consider the Traders, their fears, loss, desperation and anguish. Treat this matter in a humane light. Many of these traders have been in this market for years, through their trade they have put food on the table, educated their children and they have never asked for assistance from Government. Some would say neither has government provided for them. Why should they accept their assistance now?
Consensus building, negotiation and comprise will ensure that all stakeholders involved in this matter are adequately represented so an appropriate solution can be drawn.
To the AMA now is the time to show leadership. Make sure your communication to the traders is clear and concise, and from one source, eliminating the chance for rumours and hearsay to develop among the Traders. This will minimise the tensions.
It is too early to talk about the lessons we should walk away with from yet another disaster in Ghana. In time I’ll visit those lesson. for now take a visual look at what remains of the Kantamanto Market.
I had the opportunity to interview Davis Opoku Ansah from AFAG who visited the Market today. I asked him about his observations during his visit to the Kantamanto Market.
“The Traders are engaging in a lot of hearsay. There have been talks to modernise the Kantamanto Market by the AMA. Just 24 hours before the Market had burned down the AMA had announced their plans to modernised Kantamanto. The traders believe that the burning of the Market was orchestrated by certain individuals. The Traders are blaming the AMA. There are some conspiracy theories making the rounds amongst the traders. Also, the attitude of the police in handling this matter has been deplorable. We should consider that most of these traders have been in the market for over 30 years, throwing teargas at these traders and having them arrested does not put a human face to their losses. It’s good that the President has intervened. It’s a step in the right direction. ” Davis Opoku Ansah (AFAG)