Roadside marketing has over the years become a pandemic in the major cities of Ghana especially, the capital city, Accra where traders hijack pedestrian walk ways and other portions of the road not meant for them.
Nobody sees and stops their early exodus. But authorities become more frantic in their efforts when they had stationed permanently to rid them of those places.
Traders at market places like Kaneshie, Kantamanto, Kasoa, Madina, Nima, Mallam Atta and others gradually move their wares from their stalls or sheds in the markets to the roadside where they are enticed by ready market for their goods.
These food stuffs, which ought to be displayed under very hygienic conditions, end up being showcased in the open including pedestrian walk ways and on top of drainage culverts as well as on the dusty ground. But these sellers are of the conviction that when cooked very well, all the germs carried by the foodstuffs will die.
On daily basis, more of these traders and new entrants troop to the roadsides in the quest to catch up with customers who feel lazy and reluctant to enter the markets to do their purchase.
The eviction of these traders from the roadsides and relocating them cause the country huge sums of money each year. And there are occasional confrontations between task forces and the traders.
Although authorities are doing their possible best to put a stop to this illegal practice, it has been a failure in one way or the other since the country’s by laws are not stringent enough to deter people from going back to the roadsides to trade coupled with political interferences especially during electioneering periods.
Roadside marketing is seen as one of the best methods to market goods and services in a swift manner. It is also the fastest and easiest way of making money, according to the traders, since they do not have to pay taxes unlike being in the market structures.
Moreover, according to some consumers, products at the roadsides are less expensive as compared to those in the markets and for that matter, see it unnecessary to get products from the main markets that will even end up eating deep into their purse.
These views expressed by customers and roadside traders alike, elicited the question – who is to blame? Is it the nation’s authorities who are inefficient and ineffective in cracking the whip; consumers who turn a blind eye on health issues; or the traders?
Again, roadside traders claim they have the maximum freedom to sell at all times after all the countless efforts by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly to evict them from their unauthorized places of business transaction have often times yielded no positive results.
They still go ahead to ply their trades just to gather something small to fend for their families at the end of the day. Besides, they are also safe from any market disasters like flooding and fire outbreaks, which could lead to loss of lives, capital and properties as it happened recently where the Makola, the Kumasi Central and other markets were gutted by wild fire.
I beg to advise that this continued practice of roadside trading ought to be halted as soon as practicable. These activities of theirs have every tendency to set the nation backwards in terms of developments, trade relations with other African countries coupled with chocked gutters.
It is amazing to find all kinds of people on the road trying to market their goods and services not to mention of the blind and the crippled beggars, and also other goods that are not certified by the Food and Drugs Authority.
The government, city authorities, entrepreneurs and NGOs should help in any way possible to curtail this persistent problem in the country.
Law enforcement bodies should put stringent measures, backed by a national development agenda that trading by the roadside which cause inconvenience and congestion to traffic must be abolished while offenders bear the full brunt of the law.
City planners should also exercise effective planning before structures are erected.