Street hawking is a hazardous way of getting income but has become very common on our Ghanaian streets. Poverty, broken homes and lack of job opportunities have led to the mass increase in the number of street hawkers in the country. These hawkers stand at the roadside waiting for the traffic lights to turn red so they can hurriedly run to the approaching cars. Most of these people find street hawking to be a much quicker way of getting money than sitting at one place for customers to come and buy. As soon as the traffic lights turn red and approaching cars start to drive at a low speed, they rush with their goods to persuade passengers and drivers.
Most of these people sell edibles like pastries, beverages, sachet and bottled water, sweets and fruits among others. Some also sell other inedible goods like wall clocks, toys, belts among others. This kind of business is very risky since they can lose their lives within a twinkle of an eye, by knocking down approaching vehicles. They also stay in the sun all day to get maximum incomes to meet their needs forgetting about the negative effects of staying under the hot sun for so long. With time, they feel so comfortable with this hazardous way of getting income and do not turn to look at other business ventures that are not so risky like this one.
During school hours, we see a number of children on the streets involved in this risky work. Some ignorant and illiterate parents do not see the negative effects of exposing their children to this kind of work. When children are involved in this kind of work for a long time, they tend to forget and become ignorant about the importance of education. This leads to the increase in the number of illiterates across the country. We find children running after moving vehicles in order to get their goods bought. The sad part of this, is that these children are usually not paid well by whoever is financing the business.
Most of these women also carry their babies on their back in the scorching sun in order to make ends meet to cater for the baby. Most of these babies fall sick easily because they're fully exposed to weather conditions like rainfall and the scorching sun. These babies usually look unhealthy and underweight since their mothers do not find time for the babies. Some of these hawkers are sometimes pregnant and despite their condition, they still get on the streets, under the scorching sun to sell. You sometimes wander who is really responsible for the pregnancy.
Most of these street hawkers carry loads that are too heavy for the head. In the strive to get money, they forget that carrying these heavy loads on their head for long periods under the sun could make them sick. When they get thirsty under the scorching sun, they prefer to drink water that is too chilled for their hearts and are ignorant of the effect it can have on their health. Most of these hawkers, in their strive to get money, do not take their health into consideration. They buy and eat anything at all that is sold on the streets. Most of the young girls involved in this hazardous business end up getting impregnated by fellow male hawkers.
Street hawking is a hazardous business venture and Ghanaians should be educated about the dangers surrounding it. Relatives of hawkers who are 'well to do' can save the lives of those on the street by helping them acquire spaces in the market instead. Ghanaians should not wait to see the loss of precious lives on those on the street with the mindset of getting income, before we take action.
By Grace Opoku
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