Accra Under Siege

With four days to Christmas, Accra, the national capital, and urban centres across the country are bustling with business activities. Vehicular and human congestion has become the order of the day, as people from all walks of life converge on the cities and commercial centres to undertake last- minute shopping to make the season a memorable one. The initial tension which characterised the release of the results of the December 7 elections has eased considerably, giving way to a Christmas breeze which is blowing over the nation. For some people in Accra, the general election and its outcome cannot affect the way they celebrate this once-in-a year festivity, reports Naa Lamiley Bentil. Many people have thronged the commercial centres in the national capital to shop for Christmas items, some of which have been displayed on the shoulders of roads and pavements at Makola, the commercial hub of Accra. Christmas items such as children�s shoes, dresses, ladies and gents jewellery, Christmas trees and accessories, such as lighting and balls, are, according to some traders, moving very fast. �Going by the sales we are making, I don�t think the elections will have an impact on this year�s Christmas,� Maame Esi, a trader who sells in front of the Melcom Shopping Centre in Accra, stated. Traders who hope to rake in some profit during the Christmas season include those who sell kitchen ware, napkins, children�s clothing and foodstuffs. Meanwhile, the Chief Operating Officer of the Melcom Group of Companies, Mr Anvinder Singh, has said the management has ensured that all the branches of the company organise their operations to add more flavour and spirit to the Christmas festivities, writes Emmanuel Quaye. According to Mr Singh, between 45,000 and 50,000 customers patronised Melcom shops on a daily basis. He said the company made orders six months ago to meet the needs of its valued customers during the Christmas festivities. Asked about the perception that Melcom shops would not be patronised as a result of the recent collapse of one of the shops at Achimota, Mr Singh said it was a misconception because the company had only rented the building that collapsed. �Business is booming in all the 26 shops we own across the country and nothing has changed,� he added. From Kumasi, Ernestina Kyerewaa Oppong reports that business activities in Kumasi have bounced back after the initial lull after the December 7 general election. With Christmas a few days away, the city centre is seeing large numbers of people doing business. Before the December 7 elections, many residents of Kumasi and its environs had been highly optimistic that the elections would go in favour of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to make the 2012 Christmas festivities different from the previous ones. Since the announcement of the results of the elections, the usual excitement that characterises the city as Christmas approaches is missing in some places. Kumasi is the stronghold of the opposition NPP and one can see that the election results have had an impact on people, a situation which earlier affected business activities negatively. The situation has, however, changed, with life bouncing back into the city. Now people are busily preparing for the Christmas, as exemplified in the way business activities have seen a dramatic change. Many parents are seen with their children in town to purchase various items. Even though many complain of the rising prices of goods, they are nevertheless in town and ostensibly making some shopping. Bus terminals are also in brisk business, as people travel to and from adjoining communities and even afar to shop for the Christmas. Madam Ama Serwaa, who trades in children�s wear at the central business district in Kumasi, told the Daily Graphic that the declaration of the election results had nothing to do with Christmas. Shirley Asiedu-Addo reports from Kotokoraba in Cape Coast that the market there is bursting at its seams as Christmas draws near. The selling of children's clothing, food items and fowls at vantage points is the dominant activity at the market. A trader who gave her name only as Patricia indicated that depending on the weight of a fowl, it might go for GH�25 or GH�30. A visit to the market revealed that a crate of eggs was being sold for GH�9 or GH�10, while a crate of canned minerals was also being sold between GH�30 and GH�45. The Christmas fever is yet to catch on with residents of Sekondi/Takoradi, as the atmosphere in the oil city remains normal, reports Asiedu Marfo from Takoradi. Most residents are just going about their businesses peacefully, even as the celebration of Christmas draws closer. The prices of some food items and commodities have gone up, a situation characteristic of the celebration of the Yuletide. A visit to the Takoradi Central Market, also referred to as Market Circle, indicated that the prices of some items had gone up, while others remained stable. A 50kg bag of rice was being sold between GH�85 and GH�100, while a 10kg bag of rice was going for between GH�18 and GH�20, with an average size fowl being offered to the public at between GH�20 and GH�25. The prices of foodstuffs such as plantain, cassava, cocoyam and yam and those of vegetables such as carrots and cabbage have relatively gone up, with the prices of garden eggs and pepper remaining stable. Assorted biscuits have started flooding the markets. The traffic situation in Takoradi has not changed significantly, as traffic congestion remains on some of the main routes, particularly during the rush hours in the morning and evenings. The situation has been compounded by the arrival of heavy trucks and cargo vehicles from Tarkwa, Elubo and others areas. From Sunyani, Samuel Duodu reports that traders and shoppers from many parts of the Brong Ahafo Region have converged on the Nana Bosoma Market, popularly known as the Wednesday Market, in Sunyani, the regional capital, to trade and shop in items ranging from clothing, shoes, and Christmas items for decoration, foodstuffs, livestock, poultry products, assorted alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, among others. Some of the shoppers said they had put the elections behind them to come and shop to celebrate the Christmas. Contrary to the perception that there was no money in the system, people were briskly shopping at the market. A live fowl is sold for GH�18, compared to the GH�12 it went for last year, a crate of eggs is GH�8, compared to GH�7 last year, while a sheep and a goat are sold at between GH�70 and GH�150, depending on the size. A tuber of yam sells at between GH�2 and GH�5, depending on the size, while a bunch of plantain goes for between GH�3 and GH�10, also based on the size. Adults and children clothing and shoes range between GH�10 and GH�80, depending on the quality. Mrs Grace Ayensu Baah, a dealer in children�s and ladies� clothing and shoes, said people were patronising her wares. "I am really surprised because some people say there is no money in the system but people are buying more than they did last year and you can see for yourself," she added. Other traders who were also busily selling their wares as a result of the high patronage told this reporter that the outcome of the elections had not affected sales. With Christmas just around the corner, the usual hustle and bustle associated with the occasion is absent in Bolgatanga, the Upper East Regional capital, reports Benjamin Xornam Glover. A visit to the market revealed that there was substantial increase in the prices of some items such as foodstuffs and livestock. An average size guinea fowl which used to sell at GH�9 went for GH�17, while average size goat and sheep were sold at GH�80 and GH�130, respectively. Issah Ayamba, who sells guinea fowl at the Bolgatanga Animal Market, attributed the increases in prices to feeding cost and the increase in the cost of transporting the birds from the rural areas to the market.