Residents of Ejisu have attributed the causes of harassments, arrests, fines and imprisonments of poor and voiceless citizens in the Municipality to inadequate social amenities, particularly suitable market centres and parking terminals.
They indicate that the lack of these amenities forces them to carry-out their business activities at inappropriate spaces, which contravene the Ejisu Municipal Assembly’s (EMA) bye-laws. They said other activities that arise as a result of the problem leads to increase lawlessness.
According to the residents, with the constitutional mandate of Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to provide essential social facilities for residents and make bye-laws to regulate affairs within their jurisdictions, most of them including the EMA have not lived up to their obligation.
The residents raised these concerns at a sensitization workshop organized by Crime Check Foundation (CCF) on the bye-laws of the EMA. It formed part of the implementation of the Foundation’s Decriminalizing Vagrancy Laws and Advocacy project which seeks to create an enabling environment for vagrants (the homeless, street hawkers, head porters, vendors, truck pushers, market women, artisans, and other vulnerable groups) to know, claim and exercise their rights and responsibilities in Ghana. The project is supported by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).
Representatives of market women, female head porters, and hawkers present at the programme cited lack of market centres for traders and parking terminals for commercial vehicles. They said the development affect their economic lives. “There is no befitting market for us to ply our trade and therefore we are compelled to sell on the pavements. The lives of customers, commercial drivers who drop off traders, as well as commuters are in constant danger of being knocked down by vehicles”. They indicated.
They noted that though the authorities continue to collect tolls from them, the Assembly has not heeded their cry for a market centre and this problem has far-reaching effects on the lives of other citizens. “The Assembly constantly seize our goods, and fine us for selling on the pavements. In addition, they send their guards to harasses, arrests, and imprison drivers in some cases instead of them to provide the amenities.” They protested.
This problem has a rippling effect on the local Chapter of the Ghana Federation of Disability Organizations in the Municipality. According to them “Persons With Disability are compelled to alight at the main road and walk a long distance to get to the Assembly any time we visit the Assembly with any issue. This situation places a huge physical strain on us. It remains a great source of worry to us, particularly as the Municipal Assembly building itself is not disability friendly.” They said.
Other stakeholders present at the event included officials from the EMA. They were Hon Clement Amankwaa who chaired the program on behalf of the Presiding Member of the Assembly; Madam Haggar Adu-Paker, National Commission for Civic Education (CCE); Director in charge of Social Services, Honorable George K. Blankson, Madam Justina Moo, from the Social Welfare and Community Development; Representative of Market Queens, Nana Adjoa Pokuaa, and many identifiable groups.
Video on Prison Conditions
CCF screened a documentary on ‘prison conditions’. This was meant to educate citizens on the need to obey the laws to avoid imprisonment. The prison documentary also served as a reminder to the Assembly and other officials present that poor and voiceless citizens should not be jailed over ‘petty’ issues as this will further increase congestion at the prisons.
The Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), established in 2000, is a grant-making and advocacy organization focused on equality, justice, democratic governance, human rights, and knowledge generation. It is part of the global network of Open Society Foundations spread across 37 countries around the world. He said the Assemblies outrageously fine these vagrants for committing petty offences.
To report harassment and potential imprisonment under a local assembly bye-law, please contact or whatsApp: 0559544199 / 0507353539.