Saturday, October 1, 2022

Tollbooth closure: Hawkers make fresh demands

Hawkers at Offinso in the Offinso South District of Ashanti Region are lamenting the government’s policy decision to scrap tolls on public roads and bridges.

Congestion at toll booths that were once available for convenient shoppers is no longer available.

This has got the vendors worried. They say the decision will negatively impact their daily source of livelihood.

It is a sunny Thursday morning at Offinso. A number of residents in the town have come to the roadside to sell their products, as it is their only source of livelihood.

Unfortunately, the hawkers who ply their wares at the toll booth in this area complain the market isn’t booming as it normally would for them.

They say, they take advantage of traffic congestion at the toll booth for business.

Akua Serwaa is a hawker at the Offinso toll booth.

The mother of 4 comes to the booth every day to sell her bottles of palm oil, plantains, and cassava for the financial upkeep of her family.

Today, like many other days ahead, may be the end of her hawking business which she’s been engaged in for six years.

She says the absence of the booth will take a toll on her business.

“Since the day the government announced that the toll booth should be closed, the vehicles no longer stop here.

”None of my food items have been bought.

“I’ve used the little profits I accrued to pay for the loans I used in purchasing these items.

“I don’t have any money left on me,” she said.

Another hawker, Elizabeth Adjeiwaa told me she accrues a daily profit of 100 Ghana cedis on the loaves of bread she sells.

She is worried she might not be making such profits in the coming days.

The mother of two says she spends 50 Ghana cedis on daily expenditure and saves the remaining profit she makes.

Elizabeth bemoans her dream of saving to better her life and that of her children has been shattered.

“I save 50 Ghana cedis of the 100 Ghana cedis profit I make.

“I give 20 Ghana cedis of the remaining to children for school and save the rest for other miscellaneous stuff.

“Since I came here this morning, I’ve only sold 5 Ghana cedis out of the things I sell.

“When the cars used to stop over, I could sell my products. But now, they all speed off when they get here.

“I don’t know whether I will be able to make profit today,” she said.

Before workers at toll booths were told to cease collecting tolls on public roads and bridges, you would normally meet traffic jams at the Offinso toll booth.

This served as an opportunity for these hawkers to sell their food items.

But now, they have to chase after moving vehicles to sell to passengers, putting their lives on the line.

Some other traders who ply this stretch of the Offinso to Akomadan road to sell their perishable merchandise also shared similar sentiments.

“We don’t have any other business. We procured most of our foodstuff with loans, and we pay these whooping cashes weekly.

“How do we fend for ourselves, now that the president has introduced the abolishment of road tolls?

“Should we turn prostitutes and thieves?” one of the hawkers agitatedly said.

Another hawker who sells mangoes indicated that “my succulent mangoes are perishing. What else does the president want us to do now?”.

The hawkers say they wish the government would convert the toll booths to police checkpoints to help create a traffic congestion to keep them in business.

“If the president has abolished road tolls, then I suggest he assigns the MTTD to mount a checkpoint here so that there will be traffic for the hawkers to sell the food items,” a rubber trader humbly suggested.

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