There was a mad rush for food items in Kumasi yesterday, ahead of the closure of all markets in the city and other parts of the Ashanti Region today for the markets to be disinfested.
In order not to be overtaken by events, many people, mostly women, poured into the major markets in Kumasi, including the Bantama, Asafo and Tafo markets, to purchase food items such as cassava, plantain, cocoyam, corn dough, vegetables, rice, frozen meat, beans, gari and sugar.
It was a field day for traders as they made good sales.
Forty-three markets in the Ashanti Region will be closed to business for the exercise today.
Two days later — Sunday, March 29 — the Central Market in Koforidua, the biggest market in the Eastern Regional capital, will also be closed for a similar exercise.
The exercise is part of measures by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to check the spread of COVID-19.
“All the 43 markets in the Ashanti Region will be closed to business today for a mass spraying exercise. Consequently, the markets will be locked down to prevent obstruction during the exercise,” the Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr Simon Osei-Mensah, said.
In a statement issued last Wednesday, the minister had called on the public to cooperate with the team that would undertake the exercise.
It assured the public that the chemicals to be used for the exercise were not harmful and so they should not entertain any fear of negative effects.
“I wish to take this opportunity to passionately appeal to all traders in the markets to cooperate and comply with the ban on activities in markets in the region on Friday, March 27, 2020,” it said.
On Monday, March 23, markets in the Greater Accra Region were disinfested in the first of a series of exercises being undertaken by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.
At the Bantama Market, a 65-year-old cassava seller who gave her name as Adutwumwaa, told the Daily Graphic that traders were aware that the decision to close the markets could drive many people to buy food items before the closure.
Therefore, she said, as early as 3 a.m. yesterday, a number of traders were at the market to take advantage of the “last-day shopping”.
“Market is good,” she told the Daily Graphic, adding: “This is more than Christmas sales.”
The situation was the same at the other markets, where traders expressed their satisfaction with sales.
Some women who were buying ahead of time also said that was the best thing to do.
Unfortunately, the development led to a hike in the prices of food items.
A quantity of cassava which sold at GH¢2 went for GH¢5.
As was to be expected, buyers complained about the price hikes.
Meanwhile, it was a field day for head porters, popularly known in Kumasi as ‘paa-o-paa’, some of whom arrived in the markets as early as 5 a.m. to cash in on the situation.
The Social (physical) distancing protocol was completely absent, as the large number of buyers struggled for space, without observing the two -metre spacing.
Moreover, only a few people, mainly shoppers, were seen wearing nose masks to avoid contact with the virus.
The Central Market in Koforidua – the biggest in the New Juaben South municipality – will be disinfested on Sunday, reports Haruna Yussif Wunpini.
Already, the market women have been sensitised to the closure, as well as the outbreak of the CONVID-19 pandemic, cleanliness and good personal hygiene practices by the municipal assembly.
Briefing the media after the sensitisation exercise last Wednesday, the New Juaben South Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), Mr Isaac Appaw-Gyasi, said the departmental heads of the assembly came up with strategies to enforce the President’s directives on how to prevent the spread of the disease.
According to him, the assembly had embarked on a massive educational campaign in the municipality to educate market women on the need for them to practise good personal hygiene.
He said the disinfection would later be extended to other markets in the municipality, including the Yaa Serwaa, the Agatha and the Zongo markets.
He emphasised that the assembly had provided Veronica buckets, dust bins, rubber bowls, hand sanitisers and liquid soap at vantage areas at the various markets and lorry stations.