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Kantamanto Bounces Back 2 Years After Fire
 
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30-Jul-2015  
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Brisk trading activities have resumed in earnest at the Kantamanto Market, Accra’s biggest second-hand clothing hub, two years after a ferocious fire swept through the market and destroyed traders’ wares.

About 800 structures, which were all burnt in the conflagration, have been rebuilt by the traders.

A visit by the Daily Graphic to the market this week showed that most of the traders had joined their structures with nearby stores for power, with electricity wires visibly hanging at the top of some roofs.

Only a few structures had their separate prepaid meters.

There was virtually nothing visible to show that the market had suffered a fire outbreak of that magnitude.

The only thing that appeared to have changed was the attitude of the traders towards keeping their money on them, as they no longer deemed it wise to save their daily sales in their respective shops.

“We have learnt our lessons from the previous fire outbreak and I personally do not see any sense in keeping my money in the shop any longer. I lost GH¢5,200 in the fire and it’s not going to happen again,” one of the traders, Ms Theresa Ampah, told this reporter.

Where is the AMA ultra-modern market?

It appears that the promise by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) to reconstruct and transform the market into a modern complex to befit Accra as a Millennium City has fizzled out.

At a news conference in Accra a day after the fire had gutted the market two years ago, the AMA Chief Executive, Mr Alfred Okoe Vanderpuiye, said the reconstruction of the Kantamanto Market would begin in July 2013.

According to him, the new market, construction of which was to have been completed in December 2013, was to be a modern shopping complex for the market women.

Now that the market has been rebuilt by the traders themselves, the question some Ghanaians are asking is: Where is the modern shopping complex promised?

Whether the city authorities still have plans to bring their promise to fruition remains unanswered, as the Public Relations Officer of the AMA, Numo Blafo, declined to comment on the matter when contacted.

According to him, it was only the AMA boss who could answer that question.

Unfortunately, he said, Mr Vanderpuiye was out of the country and would return in a week’s time.

Traders promise resistance

Some of the traders who spoke to the Daily Graphic swore heaven and earth to resist any attempt by any government official to evacuate them.

“I do not see any AMA official stepping foot here to demand that we pack out. After we have toiled again to rebuild the market? No way!” Auntie Lucy, a second-hand clothes dealer, vowed.

According to her, she lost her entire livelihood in the fire and it took her about 14 months to dust herself from the misery and hardship she endured.

“It took the support of family and friends to restart my business and I’m yet to fully recover from the losses,” she said.

Another trader who sells shoes, Mr Eric Tongo, said although he had managed to recoup half of the GH¢45,000 he lost in the fire outbreak, “I have no intention of leaving the market now”.

“I told my fellow traders that they should not rely on the promises of the AMA after the chief executive had told us about reconstructing the market for us. Now, you see, something he said he would take six months to rebuild has taken almost three years and there is no trace of anything,” he said.

Flashback

On May 5, 2013, the livelihoods of more than 2,000 traders and their families were taken away when a vicious fire destroyed the entire stretch of the Kantamanto Market.

It was a day of misery, hopelessness and confusion for the traders who were forced to watch the raging fire devastate their wares.

The traders, many of whom could not contain the shock of having to witness the burning of all their wares, wailed uncontrollably and threw themselves on the ground.

Following the incident, the government, through the Micro-finance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC), presented a cheque for GH¢1,465,035 to 800 of the victims to make life bearable for them and their families.

Stanbic Bank Ghana also wrote off the debt of 14 victims who had benefited from its small and medium enterprise (SME) quick loans product.

In addition, the bank issued a cheque for GH¢150,000 as its corporate social responsibility to the 14 victims to restart their businesses.

Star Micro-insurance Company also presented a cheque for GH¢390,000 in two tranches to some of the victims, with Vanguard Assurance paying GH¢45,304 as claims to 32 traders.

 
 
 
Source: Daily Graphic
 
 

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