It’s beginning to dawn on many functionaries of the administration how Ghana is sweating under heap of problems. The likes of Gabby Othere-Darko, the man many describe as the “de-facto prime minister” of the Republic has through his twitter handle admitted how conditions in the country in all of its ramifications, have become unbearable.
The conditions in the country is simply not the basis for the passage of the draconian E-Levy tax. The scope of the E-Levy tax wouldn’t be broad enough to redeem the country from its economic woes. It’s simply beyond an E-Levy redemption. The Finance Minister tells Ghanaians that the E-Levy will fetch the country some close to GHC6 billion every year, but what he failed to answer is how the said funds could save the country from economic comatose.
The fact of the matter is that with the presidency alone spending billions in a year, (as per the Auditor General’s Reports) the GHC6 Billion E-Levy gains offer an indication how our economic managers are just gambling with the Ghanaian economy without any definite measure to fix even the short term, let alone the long haul.
Within the harsh economic quagmire that we find ourselves, the administration is still causing more problems for itself and especially, the regular Ghanaian. After collapsing the private sector through it so-called financial sector reforms, the road sector was the next hard-hit. Before the year ended last year, the sector Minister directed the closure of all high way toll booths throughout the country.
The Hon. Kyei Mensah Bonsu, the Majority Leader even suggested that the toll booths were rather causing financial loss to the State. One wonders the kind of loses the Majority Leader was referring to. What the government or the administration do to deal with the suggested loses? Did his administration consider reviewing the existing toll fees to find out whether there was the need to increase or not?
It's intriguing that while advanced countries are using toll booths fees to build and repair roads, Ghana is closing toll-booths. But later the real motive behind the order came out, or it was just a figment of someone’s imagination, as the administration would want Ghanaians to believe. Otherwise, many Ghanaians were made to believe that the private company that won the bidding to collect toll fees is owned by someone very close to former President Mahama.
The toll-booths locations created revolving jobs for hawkers 24 hours all day and night. Travelers and pedestrians had readily available market where they meet their instants needs, while on wheels. With the toll-booths closed down, many of these hawkers are out of business and the pathetic world of Obayaa Abena Entsua, an indigene from Winneba sums up the harrowing experiences of many toll-booths victims like her.
Obayaa is a divorcee and a mother of three, with his eldest son, Kwamena Anaman, currently in JSS 2 with two other siblings at the basic school. Obayaa has been selling “bodoo”, a corn-related food at the Accra-Kasoa toll booth for more than fifteen years. Bodoo is predominantly, found in the Central Regional towns like Apam, Apam Junction, Mankessim, Moree and other towns and villages in the Region. Obayaa adds the sale of Fante kenkey and fried shrimps to her popular boodo sales.
So how much does Obaaya make a day? “When the market is good, I sometimes make a profit in excesses of GHC300.00”, she told this author. But on Saturdays, she treks along the Accra-Cape Coast road selling up to 7:00 pm in the evening. This is what she disclosed to me: “On Saturdays, I first move to Winneba Junction and sell from early 5:00 am to 6:00 am; then into the villages around Apam Junction, make some money and move straight to Mankessim with boodo; and after that I come back to Winneba to pick some Fante kenkey, fried octopus, fried tilapia and shrimps to the Kasoa toll-both where I stay way beyond the 9:00pm.”
That is the time Obayaa says she makes close to GH700 in excess profit. But on occasions when his 14-year old Kwamena joins to help her sell during the weekends, she gets some GH1000.00. This picture depicts the state of many former toll-booths hawkers before they were thrown out of the streets. So after the quit-order from the streets, what realistic and truthful tale does Obayaa wants to share with this writer. I would not finish with my question when Obayaa sobbed:
“My brother, I am finished. All my children are out of school, because I can’t even give them transport fares, let alone to offer them three-square meals a day.” She disclosed that her condition is some-how better than some of her former colleague hawkers, adding that some of her friends have re-located to their villages with their children and no one knows how their children would be coping with their borrowed conditions.
“Tell me Obayaa, so what job are doing now”? I enquired. “I am in the market, struggling with the regular potters and other women kayayei, and because we are not used to these kind of jobs, we find it difficult adjusting. And to add to our struggle, the habitual potters are fighting us, so we don’t have business most of the time”. Sadly, Obayaa’s story is a micro-mirror of the larger problem that many laid-off toll booth traders or hawkers.
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