“A hawker is a person who offers goods for sale to the public without making a permanent built-up structure from which to sell” (Aseidu, et al 2008). For a very long time the activities of street hawkers have become a major phenomenon in developing countries and this seems to be very much acute in African countries from which the capital of Ghana is no exception. It has been realized that, most of the populace who engage in this activity of hawking are poor migrants from the rural part of the country.
Thus, the incidence of street hawking is underlined by the high level of poverty in the country especially its rural sector. Continuous increase in the number of school drop-outs and the high rate of unemployment cause these youth to migrate from their rural abode into the city in search of means of better livelihood. These youth, when they get to the city, realize however that it’s not as “milky” as they thought and as a result they end up on the streets. Although, these migrants engage in hawking to make a better livelihood their activities have more negative effects on themselves and the nation.
Thus, these vendors are exposed to the risk of potential accidents, loss of lives, abuse, crime and prostitution. Nationally, their activities retard the economic growth of the country. Thus, these hawkers most of which are not taxed in order to provide revenue for the government. Also, their activities results in both human and vehicular traffic which in a way tend to cause a reduction in the countries productivity. Thus, these traffics may lead to a reduction in the working hours of most production centers in the country.
The intense deliberation on this issue on most of the country’s news media has led to some interventions by the government, the policy makers like the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA). These intervention programmes which includes the establishment of the Micro-finance and Small Loans Center (MASLOC) during President Kuffour’s administration (2000-2008), the Hawkers Empowerment Program and the recently passed hawkers by-law, thus, the 2011 Accra Metropolitan Assembly Street Hawking by-law (GMSF, 2003) were to ensure that this issue of hawking on the streets of the country’s capital is solved.
With these initiatives in place however, the streets of Accra are still occupied by young people selling all kinds of things ranging from food items to electronics. This then gives rise to some questions pertaining to the effectiveness initiatives that have been put in place.
Street hawking is considered one of the most risky kinds of trading activity in the world. Over the years, the streets of Accra have witnessed several fruitless encounters between the city authorities and these hawkers. Although several policies like the Hawkers Empowerment Program, MASLOC and the recently passed by-law, thus, the 2011 Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) Street Hawking by-law have been designed to provide a solution to this problem, it still holds. Thus, the hawkers are seen on the streets again as soon as the police and city authorities stop pressuring them to stay away.
Regardless of the fact that, the activities of these hawkers have breed and exacerbated environmental problems such as traffic and health hazards, their interests and rights should also be taken into consideration when finding a way to control its rate on the streets of the capital. This project therefore seeks to examine the effectiveness of the various street hawking policies that have been enforced over the years, suggesting ideas to help bring street hawking under control for the betterment of both the hawkers and the country.
To solve this problem, this research seeks to answer the following questions:
- Why do these hawkers still exist on our streets?
- What is the success rate of these intervention programs?
- How have these policies sought to improve the lives of the ordinary hawkers?
Unsuccessful “wars” between city authorities and street hawkers can be prevented and the phenomenon finally dissolved in the country when there exist a mutual understanding between the policy makers or the government and these hawker. Thus, if these hawkers are included in the policy making process then their views and needs would be made known to the government and policy makers.
In his work, Obiri (1996) observed that children mainly hawk on the streets to supplement the income of their parents (especially those in the lower socio economic stratum). Ghana and many sub-Saharan African countries have been experiencing rapid population growth and urbanization from both natural increase and high rates of migration into the cities and large towns.
The contemporary situation in Ghana is that of the migration of young people from the hinterland into the cities for commercial activities. In the cities and towns, most of these young persons have difficulty finding jobs in the formal economic sectors due to their often limited education and lack of skills for formal employment. In their quest to make a living, many of these persons, have no other choice than to take to the streets to fashion out a living. In some countries, street hawkers are licensed by statutory bodies and their activities are regulated by law.
In Malta, for example, a street hawker is identified as “an individual who is licensed to carry out any commercial activity from any street, other than an open-air market, irrespective of the means by which such activity is carried out” (Ministry for Competitiveness & Communications, Malta, 2002). In Ghana, however, no such licensing regime is in operation and everyone can become a street hawker overnight. Thus, street hawking business in Ghana continues to expand, posing all kinds of problems that affect not only street users but also the street hawkers themselves. The review is based on secondary sources, including academic literature, statistical sources.
This study would use the qualitative research technique. This is because the study will mainly focus on human behavior thus, that of the street hawkers. Also, it will look into the causes and effects of street hawking in the country’s capital and finally research into the loopholes in the intervention policies that has been put in place for this phenomenon.
The focal area for this study will be the capital city of the Ghana that is Accra, with the research sites being, the Kaneshie – Circle – Accra road, the 37-Tetteh Quarshie stretch and the George Walker-Bush highway. The population sample for this project would be the hawkers within the selected research site and the city authorities within the Accra Metropolis. Data for this study will be collected by qualitative individual interviews and the issuing of questionnaires. Thus both the hawkers as well as the policy makers will be interviewed but the questionnaires would only be given out to some of the hawkers.
By shedding more light on the background of these hawkers, their reasons for hawking and their interest abilities, aspirations as well as educational backgrounds, this study would be able to not only provide insight into the underlying causes of the problem but also reveal how best hawkers are equipped to take advantage of programs designed to sharpen skills to be used to our advantage as a country.
Also, the insight provided by this study would be relevant for policy making bodies such as AMA and the government of Ghana to make informed decisions about properly structuring and developing the informal sector to substantially contribute to the growth of the economy.
Hawking in Accra has become a major source of daily livelihood for most young rural migrants in Ghana. As related by some researchers on the phenomenon, street hawking primarily caused by the high rate of poverty in most developing countries especially in their rural sector.
Though several policies have been implemented to find answers to this disturbing issue in Ghana, its streets are still filled with sellers. This study thus seeks to assess these intervention policies concerning street hawking in the country specifically Accra and also how these hawkers can be equipped with other skills so they can have another means of livelihood aside selling on the streets.