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Hawkers, Petty Traders and Peddlers Are Back; Tamale Streets Are Once Again Congested, Noisy And Unpassable

Tamale streets are once again congested, noisy and difficult to navigate; they have literally been taken over by petty traders, vendors and hawkers, much to the consternation of the Metropolitan Chief Executive, Mr. Musah Superior and pedestrians.

This was predictable. Everybody saw it coming, except of course, Mr. Superior, who believed Tamale touted as the fastest growing metropolis in the West African region, was worthy of a reputation befitting its new status. Fantastic and admirable.

From all indications, Mr. Superior had this irresistible urge to put his city on the map. It was his dream to transform Tamale into this cosmopolitan, urban, vibrant, shiny and attractive city.

To this end, Mr. Superior’s priority was to get the streets of Tamale cleaned, scrubbed and fumigated by first getting rid of irritating and obnoxious traders and pushy hawkers. But the Metropolitan Chief Executive’s dream never materialized. It fizzled before it could bear fruit. He had the odds stacked up against him at every level.

Two groups of Tamale citizens were primarily responsible for the failure of Mr. Superior’s efforts to take off. First there were the intransigent assemblymen, predominantly NDC, who quietly but firmly opposed Mr. Superior’s policies towards street merchants. While publicly supporting the mayor, they secretly sabotaged him at every turn.

Then, there are the recalcitrant and openly defiant petty traders and hawkers who did not take kindly to Mr. Superior’s decision to deprive them of their livelihoods. They resisted and pushed back at the least opportunity.

So, it came as a little surprise when at last month’s assembly meeting, Mr. Superior told members that he was abandoning his project of decongesting the streets of the metropolis and listed several reasons for his decision, including the failure of the members to throw their weight behind his efforts.

The metropolitan chief executive was reportedly angry and rightly so. While I did not agree entirely with his approach —– I think he should have taken certain factors into consideration such as the rapid growth of Tamale and the population explosion in the immediate aftermath, the high rate of unemployment in the city, and the stubborn resistance of Tamale residents to the rule of law —– before enacting his policies of cleaning the streets of undesirables.

Instead of brooding and throwing temper tantrums, Mr. Superior would be better served burying the hatchet with the aggrieved assembly members and working with them to find solutions to the city’s myriad of problems. Here is hoping that Mr. Superior has learnt a valuable lesson in governance; it is certainly not a walk in the park.






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