Traders in Accra and Kumasi have experienced multiple fires before the 2020 general election, all which demonstrated the disturbing occupational hazards informal workers are subjected to.
The most devastating, according to the traders, was the Odawna Market fire, which swept through the Pedestrian Mall.
IHVAG and GAMA can confirm from fellow traders/workers that the fire left 3500 shops ravaged and that goods worth thousands of cedis went up in smoke, and these same traders were to face the daunting task of piecing their businesses back together.
“Unfortunately, it’s not the first time workers have seen their livelihoods burn to the ground. In 2013, a fatal fire affected the same market. In 2015, an explosion at a petrol station near the market killed 150 people. In January 2019, at least 80 stalls at the Odawna Market were burnt beyond recognition. The response from the relevant authorities has merely been to offer sympathy.
“Over the period, we haven’t seen any practical interventions for preventing fires happening in the future. Workers have been left struggling to do business with no assistance. The repetitive nature of these incidents is the clearest testament that officials have done very little to confront this danger of fire to prevent its recurrence.
“IHVAG and GAMA would like to extend congratulations to the re-elected President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and to remind him of his promise to support the traders of Odawna Market and others who have suffered similar fate,” a statement said.
It added “IHVAG and GAMA would like to make the following demands on behalf of the traders; That the President take immediate steps to implement his promise on 19th November, 2020, to support the over 3000 affected traders who lost their means of livelihood in the Odawna Market fire with grant funding through the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI).
“That the President take immediate steps to implement his promise on 19th November, 2020, to improve the infrastructure of markets by undertaking “a project of rewiring all major markets in the capital” and report on their progress through their respective MMDAs.
“A full scale investigation into the causes of the fire be opened across all the affected markets and the reports discussed with the traders especially on the causes of the fire outbreak. Designation of at least one fire tender with officers stationed at the Pedestrian Shopping Mall and all other major markets across the city.
“Train and equip traders on firefighting skills and provide fire extinguishers at vantage points in the markets. Regular visits by the Municipal assembly to inspect electrical connections in the markets. These demands, along with those made by other professional bodies, would go a long way to help curb such unfortunate incidents in the future.”