Agartha Market, where Koforidua rises for the worm

October 23, 2021
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Some orange sellers getting ready for business at the Agartha market

Some orange sellers getting ready for business at the Agartha market

Open markets have become an integral part of most communities in Ghana. Some of these markets do not operate every day but others do on a regular basis.

In Ghana, particularly in the Akan-speaking areas, a seven-day cycle is very common as market days. It may also range from twice to three times a week.

Koforidua being an Akan dominated municipality falls into this category, as Mondays and Thursdays have been designated as market days. On these days the municipality comes to a standstill with people trooping in from far and near to buy needed groceries.

The rendezvous is a satellite market, popularly known as the Agartha Market, which is located on the southern part of the Eastern Regional Coordinating Council (ERCC) area en route to the Old Estate community.

Birth of Agartha

The early bird catches the worm so says the old adage. Therefore, as early as 5.30 a.m. when foodstuffs from the hinterlands are brought to the market, people from all walks of life storm the market in their numbers to purchase all kinds of items ranging from pepper, onions, yam, plantain and fruits, among others.

There is a rush for the market as day breaks because prices are cheap. Self-appointed market queens invade the market to purchase the items at cheaper prices and later sell them exorbitantly.

“I come here early to purchase my household needs with my meagre income since goods sold at the Central Market are very expensive,” Ms Esther Buabeng, a civil servant, told the Daily Graphic.

In its bid to find out how the market came to be, the Daily Graphic found out that some decades ago when the Koforidua Central Market was being rehabilitated there was a decision to temporarily resettle some of the traders on a piece of land belonging to the then Ghana Railways Corporation now known as the Ghana Railways Development Authority.

As a result, some of the market women led by the market queen of the Koforidua Central Market known as Aunty Agartha, settled on that piece of land to begin their trading activities.

But today with the exception of market days, the Agartha Market is deserted and as quiet as a cemetery, as most of the trading women go back to the Central Business District to sell.

Sanitation

However, the market, which is so dear to the heart of the people of Koforidua, has no sanitation facilities. Therefore, when confronted by the call of nature one has to find his or her own way to answer to that call.

In addition to this the market has no sheds; hence, the traders either display their items on sacks, spread them on the ground or on miniature tables, which can make the food items contaminated. Also, as there are no sheds, the traders are left at the mercy of the weather anytime it rains.

On sunny days, some of the traders use umbrellas to protect themselves from the scorching sun which gives them so much discomfort.

Ironically though, the New Juaben South Municipal Assembly collects tolls from the market women without attending to their needs.

Aside from this comes the of issue grid lock. Stretching from the traffic light near the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) to the ERCC offices is hellish on market days as vehicles find it difficult to move because some traders extend their activities to the edges of the road which is very narrow.

Views

Hajia Sakina Mohammed, a trader at the market, told the Daily Graphic that the congestion experienced had increased significantly, as some traders turned pedestrian walkways along the street into a trading post.

According to her, the uncontrolled invasion had also resulted in many unfortunate and avoidable incidents, including pedestrian knock-downs resulting in severe injuries, as visitors to the market have to share the street with vehicles.

Hajia Sakina explained that the traders ignored all the dangers brought about as a result of their takeover of the streets on Mondays and Thursdays, much against road traffic regulations.

Some patrons of the market who spoke to the Daily Graphic, aside from assigning various reasons why they patronised the market also shared their views on its state.

A retired civil servant, Mr Kwesi Boateng, said the Agartha Market was supposed to be developed to accommodate the growing number of traders so as to discourage traders from displaying their foodstuffs on the streets.

Hairdresser Akosua Adjei, expressed her dissatisfaction about the manner traders were made to sit under the scorching sun to trade.

She added that it was important for the New Juaben South Municipal Assembly to properly construct the market with the required facilities to enable the traders to do their trading without let or hindrance.

Assembly

On steps being taken to mitigate the sufferings of the traders, the New Juaben South Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), Mr Isaac Appaw-Gyasi, indicated that his outfit was committed to the welfare of the traders at the market, explaining that last year the assembly constructed two major sheds for the traders.

“Although this is not enough to address the challenges we shall do our best to find a lasting solution to the problems,” the MCE stated.

Mr Appaw-Gyasi told the traders that he would make sure that more sheds were constructed soon to help mitigate the plight of the traders at the market.

“The Agartha market is dear to my heart, so I will do everything possible to improve the market infrastructure for the benefit of all traders,” Mr Appaw-Gyasi pledged.

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