Members of the Ho Central Market Traders Association have given a five day ultimatum to the Ho Municipal Assembly to reallocate market stalls in Ho or face their wrath.
The over 100 members of the Association, at a press conference in Ho on Wednesday at the Volta Press Center, were clad in mourning clothes with placards and chanting war songs registered their displeasure at how the stalls were allegedly allocated to “friends and families”.
A statement, signed by the Market Queen decried the, “unfair” distribution of the stalls, and accused the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) of denying market women “many stalls at the front view of the market as well as those at the down floor and the larger and spacious stalls”, in alleged defiance of a recent Ho High Court order.
“In fact, the distribution was made in arbitrary manner to the disadvantage of majority of sellers in the market. For example, several stalls were allocated to the so-called sellers on protocol, and rich shop owners. All of these betrayed the common agreement by the High Court Judge in Ho, few months ago.”
The Association said the construction of the new market was initiated by the Association in 2012, and had agreed on the allocation before existing structures were pulled down to make way for new ones.
The Association alleged that the New Patriotic Party (NPP), which was then in opposition and had accused the National Democratic Congress (NDC) of strategically positioning the project for votes and had tried to discourage its execution, was now “sharing the market stalls to their own party members, families and friends”.
The Association said engagements with both past and present Municipal Chief Executives on the matter proved futile, and appealed to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to intervene.
Madam Christie Fansey, Assistant Market Queen, said the Assembly would be denied its tolls, and would be prevented from operationalizing the stores if it did not address their concerns.
“The Assembly has cheated us. The watchmen they employed are stealing from us. They have given the stores to protocol and we give them five days or we won’t pay tickets and the place would become a white elephant,” she said.
Mr Prosper Pi-Bansah, Ho Municipal Chief Executive, however, denied the accusations and said, “we followed the Court’s direction and we have the right to determine the mix of the stalls”.
The new market complex, with police, and a fire station, was completed with a French grant as part of the pilot of the Ghana Urban Management Project (GUMP) in 2017.