Street Vendors, Their Daily Bread and Accra Traffic

 In Behind the Scenes

This month, something interesting happened at the Emmanuel Eye Clinic traffic light at East Legon in Accra. Three of us, Emmanuel, Namata and I were heading for a shoot at Nima, a residential town in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana.

Namata wanted to get a spare jack cable for her cute stereo. The traffic light showed red. We stopped. Emmanuel rolled down his glass and signalled a cable seller who approached in seconds. Middle aged, stout, a bit sweaty under the scorching sun and had a weary smile on.

After bargaining, we offered to pay seven Ghana Cedis, and just after receiving the item, traffic goes green, cars honking at us. The money we had were huge denominations. We searched for lower denominations but unfortunately got only four cedis. Emmanuel received the money from us without realising how much it was. Ben, our driver had to move in order not to cause a hold up.

“How much was that?” Emmanuel asked. I responded, “four Cedis.”

After we crossed to the other side, Emanuel realising that we had underpaid the vendor asked the driver to park.

“Namata, we have to park now and go give him the rest of his money” Emmanuel said. “Actually, give him ten for the troubles” he added.

Namata left and returned after twenty minutes. She was stuck for minutes trying to cross that monster road, easily one of the busiest in Ghana. While she was away, we discussed the dangers of selling on a highway, and wondered if the risk of being hit was worth the bucks to be made.

Running after vehicles moving at high speed just to sell menial items including water, chips, handkerchiefs, artworks is not to be made light of. Amongst the vendors were mostly women, girls and children.

We wondered why much was not being done to get them off the streets, perhaps, those at the helm of affairs may be clueless about what to do, or, do these hawkers just love it?

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