Hawking refers to the act of selling consumable goods or items for a living. It can also be termed as peddling or vending. Although this activity is not entirely the preserve of females, they (girls or women) are the group that are mostly seen in this practice. Hawking on the street in the urban centers and cities in Ghana has become a common feature. What is more worrying about these hawking activities is that children constitute a large proportion of the number engaged in the sale of consumable items on the street. In the cities and towns in the country such as Accra,Kumasi,Cape coast,Tamale and Sekondi-Takoradi,just to mention a few of them, hawkers have taken over the streets and are in high competition with vehicles for which the roads were constructed. The items offered for sale by these hawkers range from sachet water to foodstuffs such as plantain chips and vegetables. It can be said that this activity stems from acute unemployment situations in the country as a major factor, and the lack of education among the youth as another.
In the first place, people who engage in hawking are exposed to the danger of being knocked down by speeding vehicles and truly many of them are killed or injured on daily basis.These killing and injuries come about as a result of hawkers paying less attention to traffic signs and speeding vehicles .Hawkers also engage in a survival of the fittest contest as they try to out-run one another to meet incoming vehicles so as to stand a better chance of having their items bought first. This competition distracts their attention from the dangers around them.
Also, hawking on the streets of our urban towns is one of the major factors through which these human settlements are buried in refuse and filth. Almost every street of the urban towns are plaqued with heaps of rubber and plastic wastes of which some have assumed the shape of hills and mountains.This is evident to the fact that items sold by hawkers are either served in polythenes or already packaged in plastic bowls.The side effects of this unhealthy situation is the outbreak of epidemic diseases such as cholera, Malaria and dysentery. The large volume of refuse generator through the activities of hawkers produce offensive smell especially during raining seasons.
To add to this, adolescent girl-child who are engaged in hawking on the streets in the cities and towns in the country are exposed to sexual abuse and rape. In most cases, the girls who are made to engage in hawking are mostly maids serving their madamsmistresses in their homes, cities and urban towns and who are denied their basic needs. Thus, they are easily lured into sexual acts for little or nothing at all. The outcome of these is teenage pregnancy and the spread of Sexually Transmitted Diseases such as gonorrhea,syphilis and the deadly HIV and AIDS. The situation gets more horrifying when wicked men capture them, extract sexual pleasures out them, hands them over to their fetish priests for slaughtering and used for money rituals later on. Some are also kidnapped and used as bait to extort money from families and guardians.
Also,hawking on the streets of urban towns and cities obstruct the movement of motor vehicles due to the large human traffic. The result of this is that workers who depend on public transportation and even those who own private means of transport get to their places of work late which at the end of the day result in decrease in productivity. To deal with this social problems,the following measures are suggested.
Metropolitan,Municipal and District Assemblies whose areas provide grounds for hawking activities must come out with laws that prohibit people from hawking on the street. To enforce these laws, anti-hawking squads should be formed by the assemblies that the streets are clear of hawkers. And the same time,alternative market places must be established for the large number of people who would be affected by the enforcement of laws. Again,the government should implement measures to stop the influx of people,especially the youth from migrating from the rural areas to urban areas (cities) in search of white-collar job which are not easy to come by. One of these measures is provision of social amenities and health care facilities and creation of jobs in rural areas. This will discourage all desires to travel to the cities for a job to make ends meet since all they could need for a living are now at their disposal.
Lastly,the government should overhaul the country’s educational system from its present state whereby graduates from the various levels of institution are without employable skill to the system which would equip them with technical and vocational skills so that they could be able to find jobs in private and public enterprises or establish their own businesses instead of resorting to the hawking of goods for their daily livelihood.