Thursday, September 10, 2009

so this is progress?

Authorities in Kumasi, Ghana have torn down and burnt two thousand informal stalls in the central business district. Police started the action at 4:30 am, so when the business people arrived around 6, their stalls were already ablaze. Daily Guide Ghana reports.

Sticks, stones, and soap phones

At the same time, authorities in Accra have warned that hawkers are the big problem in the capital's Nkrumah Circle. "Walking on that pavement is very difficult, for the reason that these hawkers are overcrowded on the pavements, while they chase and pursue pedestrians to buy their phones. When passers-by try to ignore them, they turn to rain insults on these people calling them all them all sorts of names," Modern Ghana suggests, adding that some "hawkers design toilet soap to look like a mobile phone, cover it with a cell phone covering, and sell it, saying that the battery had run down so it could not be turned on."

This is absurd.

1. Burn down their markets and banish all hawkers simply because they are persistent and successful businesspeople. Whatever happened to due process?

2. I have been in many markets in Africa. In Lagos, Nigeria, many touts outside the market will grab your shirt or your hand and attempt to pull you into their stalls. When you make it clear you don't want to buy, they understand.

3. And ask yourself: would you buy a mobile phone from a guy on the street without opening it up and making sure it works?

The spurious arguments offered in these newspapers are designed to make people fear street markets. But crowds actually increase commerce and heighten public safety. And the street sellers are providing a service. If there were no customers, there would be no street vendors.

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