We heard the grumblings of the traders when the Agriculture Ministry made good its promise of carting foodstuff from the production areas to Accra for sale to consumers.
At the time we did, we thought the grumblings were going to fizzle out within a short time. Indeed, we did not even know that that the project was going to last this long. But a couple of days ago, the President of the Ghana Union Traders Association (GUTA), Dr Joseph Obeng, joined the fray created by the foodstuff traders. He provided a flammable support for the traders whose arbitrary surging prices Ghanaians endured in the past weeks.
Although we did not expect Dr. Obeng, and for that matter GUTA to support their working-class compatriots, coming out loudly in support of tomato and kpakpo shitor sellers to continue on the greedy path was too much and selfish.
We understand the outcome of the interplay between the cost of production and transportation in the face of a globalised economic challenge but the arbitrary daily increases is not commensurate with the realities on the ground.
Truth be told, there was a certain level of frenzy in the near daily increase of prices of items on the market. From old stocks to new ones, traders were undoing each other as they changed prices incessantly. It was as though they were in to punish their compatriots and government.
Unfortunately, Dr. Obeng and his GUTA did not assuage the pain of Ghanaian consumers with soothing words let alone talk to the traders to take it easy.
In his reaction to the Agric Ministry’s intervention, he spoke for the traders and ignored totally the interests of the consumers who have been exploited beyond expectation.
As we pointed out earlier, we are not at all discounting the pain and losses traders suffered and continue to do under the prevailing economic circumstances but are only asking for fairness from such respectable bodies like GUTA.
When persons like Dr. Obeng speak like he did, we begin to wonder whether only traders matter and not the rest of us who do not have sheds at the Agbogbloshie or Kantamanto Markets.
We all matter, of course including the relations of GUTA members. We must be each other’s keepers at times of global economic crisis such as now. When our parochial interests take the most part of us, then we lose the moral right to complain when out of desperation, a state department takes an initiative to save consumers from the wickedness of traders.
The action of the Agriculture Ministry might not be sustainable but as an intervention it will provide a certain relief albeit temporarily.
We acknowledge the role of traders especially, the women in the markets and the troubles they endure to bring the farm produce to us but reckless and uncaring manipulation of prices foodstuff beyond the prevailing costs of production and transportation, as the traders are doing, is reckless and ungodly.