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Has Mayor Superior’s street decongestion plan gone awry?

Last year when the Tamale Mayor, Mr. Musah Superior launched his street decongestion plan, he did so with an air of certainty and full blown confidence.

The mayor had every reason under the sun to embark on his plan; the main commercial arteries of the northern capital were unsightly, clogged with foodsellers, hawkers, vehicles and pedestrains.

It was, to all intents and purposes, a chaotic and disorderly ecosystem. From the outset, Mr. Superior was determined to inject some semblance of normalcy into the system.

Not only did he threatened those who defied his newly minted decongestion regulations with the confiscation of their trading items, and in extreme cases legal action, he also made it abundantly clear that the operation was going to be long term.

Traders and hawkers who conducted business in the open were subsequently urged, rather strongly, to move to an entirely new zone created exclusively for their use.

On a recent visit to the city I love, I noticed that no substantial change had taken place, it was status quo ante; in other words, Mayor Superior’s policy of cleaning up Tamale streets  had fallen hard on its face, failed miserably; the streets are still crowded, noisy and difficult to navigate.

Hawkers have stayed put, and are openly doing business as usual, yellow yellow taxis are dropping off and picking passengers with no care in the world. It is as if they are telling the mayor, daring him to come slap handcuffs on their wrists for defying his orders.

When I asked why the streets are still congested, I was told that the mayor had ran into stiff political opposition, primarily from highly placed nameless regional NDC officials. I don’t buy this explanation for a minute.

The fact of the matter is that Mr. Superior failed to do due diligence. Big policy moves like his require thorough research, survey and questioning, all designed to get public feedback on the policy. The mayor should have done these basics before implementing his decongestion plan.

Additionally, Mr. Superior should have known that his efforts to clean up the streets of Tamale would encounter massive resistance. Because, Tamale hawkers like their counterparts elsewhere in the country, are not strong adherents of the rule of law.

They will vehemently oppose any good public policy that has the potential to disrupt their way of life and deprive them of their only source of income.  They will resist any attempt to publicly humiliate them into submission. And with formidable political friends, they can easily have their way.

The mayor ran into a stiff wall of resistance to his decongestion policy because his approach was hamfisted, tough, merciless, inconsiderate and rushed.

If only Mr. Superior had chosen first to talk privately to the traders or their representatives and then tried to win them over to his side of the argument, then perhaps, his policy would have been a merry success.

Now that the traders, hawkers and yellow yellow taxi drivers appear to have won the battle, what is next for our mayor?




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