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Traders, commercial drivers and truck drivers, numbering over 3,000 who ply their trade at the Western regional market and lorry station at Agbogbloshie market in Accra have smoked peace pipe after portions of their lands were forcibly taken over by the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, for the construction of hostels and toilets for head porters (Kayayie) in Accra.

The peace pipe was smoked through the intervention of the Member of Parliament for Jomoro Constituency in the Western region, Dorcas Afo Toffey who was assisted by the former Mayor of Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) who is also the Member of Parliament for Ablekuma South Constituency, Alfred Okoe Vanderpiuje.

The above parties met the current Mayor of AMA, Elizabeth Sackey to deliberate on the issues Wednesday, February 22, 2023 to resolve the issue amicably.

Elizabeth Sackey (2nd from left) is Accra Mayor, Alfred Oko Vanderpuije (3rd from left) is Ablekuma South MP and Dorcas Afo Toffey (R) is MP for Jomoro

Currently, digging of the foundation for the construction of the Kayayei hostel facilities is ongoing in more than half of the land for the commencement of the project.

The traders and drivers have lived on that parcel of land for over 40 years now.

Five vehicles that were stationed on the land at the time of the operation were towed to the office of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA).

The drivers say they had to pay GH¢5,000 each before they were released to them.

Speaking during the meeting, Madam Elizabeth Sackey explained that the project plan had been there since the year 2019 of which the leadership of the market and the station were informed.

She explained that there was a meeting with some executives before they took over on Monday, February 20, 2023, but such executives were not the main people to determine the fate of the station and the market.

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Madam Sackey noted that they are not taking the entire land but a portion of it which will even benefit the drivers and the traders.

The Mayor noted that the name is Kayayie Hostel but it is not only that but something which will benefit the entire traders and drivers in the area.

The Engineer for the Project, Dr Stephen Nketiah explained that he took the police and the military to the land because of the situation on the grounds and not that they were there to forcibly take the land from them.

He said they thought he was coming to meet those he held meetings with which have turned out to be not legitimate people.

The Chairman of the Drivers Union, Somia Ahoma admitted that they were aware of the said 2019 notice to take over the place for such a project but because the authorities refused to move in around that time till now, they were taken by surprise. He said they needed to be settled before such a project or eviction but nothing of that sort was done.

Mr. Ahoma said with the explanation by the Mayor and the Engineer, the project can now take place peacefully. But he said they needed a place to settle and ply their trade.

The MP for Jomoro, Dorcas Afo Toffey in an interview said what happened was a miscommunication from the executors of the project.

She explained that the involvement of the police and the army created the confusion because the traders thought the place was being taken away from them forcibly.

Madam Afo Toffey noted that “normally, there are sign posts on government projects indicating which contractor, kind of project, among others, but there was nothing like that in this instance.”

“We told them that such projects, the MPs for the areas must be notified so that in case there is any confusion like this, the MP would be in a better position to explain to the people. In this case, the MP for the Odododiodio, Edwin Nii Lante Vanderpuije didn’t even know,” she explained.

The MP said because they did not know they all thought it was some people who had come there to eject them but it was explained that it is a government project and as such the traders and drivers will not be ejected since the remaining land will be given to them. Madam Afo Toffey assured that for now the traders and drivers would be there and even if there would be any relocation, it will not happen now and even that, it will be a gradual process since hasty relocation would disrupt their businesses.

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By Kweku Antwi-Otoo|OnuaTV|Onuaonline