In Protest Against AMA Boss Today
The much-publicized fourth edition of the World Summit of Mayors scheduled to take place today, June 1 to 3 in Accra under the auspices of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), could suffer a major setback with Makola Market Women, hitting the venue naked.
The traders at the New Makola Number 2 Market near Agbogbloshie, in the Greater Accra Region, have threatened to strip naked in a demonstration against the AMA boss, Dr. Alfred Oko Vanderpujie, over attempts to sell a parcel of land on which they earn their daily bread, to a private bank. They have occupied the land for years and pay levies to the authorities.
Ironically, the summit, which would be made up of mayors from Africa and African descent in the Diaspora, and expected to attract over 10,000 participants, has the theme, “Economic Empowerment between Africa and the Diaspora.” Attendees include, the Global Alliance of Mayors, officials of UNAIDS, the United Nations and President John Mahama.
According to the aggrieved women who staged a rehearsed demonstration last Tuesday, they are prepared to go as far as the seat of government, the Flag Staff House naked, if authorities especially, the AMA and it boss, continue to be adamant towards their plight in this era of joblessness.
Interestingly, Mr. Vanderpuije, who is currently the President of the Global Alliance of Mayors and Leaders from Africa and of African descent, according to the women, has refused to hear and address the challenges, despite several petitions to him.
The women, nearing a thousand, have also warned, they would abandon their wares and flood the street of Accra and engage in prostitution, should authorities fail to come to their aid.
Clad in red and black and chanting war songs, the traders said, the failure by managers of the market to reconstruct their part of the market which was twice razed down by fire in -2010 and 2012 – has brought untold hardship to them and their families.
The recent agitation stems from plans by the AMA to exclude the market from a programme outlined to reconstruct major markets in the metropolis hit by fires, because the management of the market, a private company, is demanding money from the women to rebuild.
“We have heard in the news that the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) is about to build market for all affected burnt markets excluding ours, Makola no 2 Agbogbloshie, Accra. We hereby appeal to the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) to add Makola no 2 Market Agbogbloshie to the affected burnt markets as we cannot afford the amount Makola Market Company (MMC) is demanding from us”, a petition sent to the AMA said.
The protest is also to foil a clandestine attempt by managers of the market to sell the burnt market to a popular bank to develop for banking business.
Reports that the land is being processed to be sold, with officials of the bank parading on the land, have sparked fear and panic in the women.
According to the traders, apart from the fact that the company has failed to reconstruct the market over the past five years, the amount the company is charging, is beyond their reach, particularly having lost all their investments in two successive fire outbreaks. They disclosed how they had to take huge bank loans to bounce back so as to fend for themselves and their families.
They believe their inability to gather funds to foot the rent being charged, has fueled the decision to sell the market to the yet to be named bank obviously with a deep pocket.
A document sighted by this paper, explains that a shop when built at the ground floor, would cost GHC3, 200.00, while a premium first floor was quoted to cost GHC2, 750.00 for a period of five years after which the shop would be forfeited, if the trader fails to renew it.
The document dated May 21, 2012, and signed by the company’s Managing Director (MD), Rose-Margaret Kpodo, further demanded from the poor traders, “you are to pay the 5-year rent advance within 12 months upon receipt of this offer letter”.
It concluded; “the tenancy shall be for an initial period of five (5) years and subject to renewal after the expiration of the initial five (5) years lease”.
The wish of the aggrieved women is that the AMA takes over the reconstruction of the market. But they told The Herald that several attempts to get the attention of the Mayor, Dr. Vanderpujie to intervene, have fallen on deaf ears. They showed copies of the two petitions sent to the AMA boss, who promised to send his men to the ground, but failed.
The first petition captioned, “Developments at Agbogbloshie Market-Petition for AMA’s Intervention”. The women who described themselves as “Concerned Market Traders”, said in parts, “We are by this petition requesting principally that the Accra Metropolitan Assembly intervenes in the activities of the Makola Market Company Limited (MMC) and allied bodies in order to safeguard the interests of ordering market traders”.
They were worried that the company MMC, failed to include them in an issue as critical as this, only to throw their final decision at them.
“We are concerned about the minimal nature of consultation between the company and real traders. In particular there is a real feeling that terms of proposed tenancy agreements are not discussed with the traders. As a result there is widespread fear about lack of renewal clauses”.
The second petition which was written this month, dated May 21, 2015, and signed by the aggrieved women said, “We have received letters from Makola Market Company (MMC) properties, whereas we have been asked to pay an amount before they will construct the said stores for us, but we cannot afford the amount they are charging”.
According to them, several efforts to get the AMA to take over the rebuilding of the market since that portion of it got burnt twice in two years, November 18 2010 and June 4 2012, has not been successful, unlike other markets which suffered similar predicaments few years ago.
The failure of MMC to put up a shed for the women, has left them at the mercy of the harsh weather conditions and it was a sight to behold when The Herald, last week, visited the area when it was raining. They had been left on a road in front of clinic and school and other makeshift structures, although they have been coughing up GH¢260.00 annually, to this private company.
The amount includes a garbage collection fee of GH¢80, and according to them is still forced out of them even in cases where one is indisposed for a year or more, therefore, unable to come to the market to trade, she is made to pay without any excuse.
The women, who say before the market was burnt, they were supported with a facility from MASLOC, have had a good number of their colleagues numbering 48 dying, because of the frustrations and anxiety. Three of them have also gone insane.
Speaking to The Herald, a leading member of the group, Madam Rose Penney, whose school and clinic have been affected said, all the moneys she raised while in Italy where she lived for 23 years, have all gone under the drain, because of the company’s inability to redevelop the market.
Her school, the Overcomers Child Academy, which served these women by providing education for their children almost free of charge, is on it knees as pupils numbering close to 500, has reduced to 32 as result of the unsavory environment the school is situated due to the fire outbreaks and the failure of the manager to maintain the market.
She pleaded with the AMA and the government, to see their plight as a matter of urgency, and get the market developed as quickly as possible to enable them fend for themselves and their dependents.