The area around Makola market is crowded with traders trying to carve out a small space to display their goods and attract the attention of potential customers. Rentable shops and market stalls are in short supply. It is fairly common for a property owner to ask for 10 years up front to rent such a space. Informal arrangements are common. For example, a shop owner might permit sellers to use the space just outside her door in exchange for keeping an eye on things. The video below depicts a market clearing exercise by the Accra Municipal Authority (AMA) from a few years ago:
On the sidewalk at the edge of a parking lot, a number of women have set up informal displays of their goods. A wooden pallet is covered with a blanket and children’s clothing laid on top of that. An umbrella provides shade. We see a sudden flurry of activity, women with their arms loaded with blankets running to somewhere inside or behind the chop bar along the sidewalk. A pick up truck filled with men pulls up. They are not wearing reflective vests, or uniforms of any sort, nothing that identifies them as part of the Accra Municipal Authority. We watch as they start to seize the goods from just a few street sellers still remaining on the sidewalk. They pile them bag by bag into the truck. The beefy AMA enforcers literally push the street sellers out of the way. One young women is trying to throw bags of secondhand clothes into a car parked next to her street selling spot. The enforcer physically shoves her out of the way, grabs the bag out of the car and throws it into the pickup. Another woman swoops in and helps the women by grabbing some of their goods and taking them away. The street sellers argue with the men, but don’t become irate. After it is all over the one young woman, the one trying to rescue some of her goods by throwing them into a car, stands on her wood pallet looking forlorn.