Thursday, 13 June 2013

Blind Sided (Dumsor and Other things)

Politicians are like magicians. They somehow manage to keep us distracted with slight of hand while the real trick is happening somewhere else. Next thing you know, things are disappearing everywhere.

Somewhere at the beginning of the year ECG announced that we wouldn't be guaranteed regular electricity for a while. They gave the usual technical explanations that most people can't understand and proceeded to take away the electricity we had paid for. When it was time to take away the power, they were always punctual but not so eager when it was time to turn it on.

 At first most of us were of the opinion this would last a few weeks, after all, we still had enough to sell to our neighbours. The President promised it would be over by the end of April. We are in June and there is no end in sight. Instead, everyday, ECG announces another temporary or emergency schedule along side the currently running one. I've lost count of the number of Load Shedding schedules running concurrently right now.

It was just around that time someone thought it was a good idea to air the Election Petition Court Trial. Genius! See, the two non-religious activities that distract Ghanaians most are politics and football. The moment the Election Petition started airing of people didn't seem to care about the Load Shedding. It was like everything was ok.

Call me a cynic, but in my opinion this whole Election Petition will achieve nothing. There's not a snowflake's chance in hell that the court is going to overturn the December 7, 2012 results. This is Africa. Someone told me the whole point of the petition was to deepen the democracy of Ghana. Haha, no it won't. It would still be the same in years to come. No matter the results, Nkatie Burger would still be 60% air and exactly 100 pieces of coated groundnuts (I know, that makes no sense but it sounds deep).

Basically, the only purpose the airing of the Election petition is to reduce the already low productivity level in the public sector. So far so good.

Next big thing in the news these day? Market fires. Almost every week we hear one market or the other is burning. Kantamanto, Makola, Agbogloshie markets have all been in the news recently with women wailing and pleading with the government to come to their aid. Conspiracy theorist got very active and started spreading stories about political rivals turned arsonist. Without a shred of proof people started accepting these stories as gospel.

I can't be the only one who thinks the unstable power supply has something to do with these fires. Most of the markets in question have poor wirings and are made up of ignitable structures. All that is needed to start a fire is a few sparks from the sporadic outages and the whole place would be in flames. These fires occur almost every year and every year the same conspiracy theories pop up. Notice how the Kaneshie market is never on fire? It's a solid structure with most of it's wirings well done.

Well, instead of the authorities finding a proper solution to these fires and power outages, various politicians came on TV to give credence to the theory that pyromaniacs were responsible for these fires. Maybe they believed the ghost of Herostratus was back. Anyway, the president was recently on TV saying he had returned from America and had invited the Real Ghostbusters to help apprehend these ghost pyromaniacs. Also Gh¢25,000.00 reward money has been set aside for information leading to the capture of whatever scoundrels were responsible for these fires. Wow! Jesus was betrayed for far less, i'm sure it's only a matter of time before someone betrays these nonexistent ghosts.

So now, nobody is talking about power outages and all the problems it's causing, all they are talking about are the Election Petition and Pyromaniacs Ghost. Congratulation, mr. President and Co, you've successfully blind sided us from the real problems in this country.

                                   Meanwhile, exactly 6 O'Clock at ECG Office


Monday, 3 June 2013

The Real Accra Mall

The real Accra Mall is not the traffic trap wedged between Spintex road and the Accra-Tema Motorway. No, that place is just a place where prepubescent teen flock on holidays like animals entering Noah's ark to carry out amorous activities. The real Accra Mall is the chaotic market found everywhere in Accra. In traffic, on narrow walkways, your door step and any available space in Accra.

                                                                 The Other Accra Mall

There's almost nothing you can't find these days being hawked on the streets of Accra. From household, live animals, appliances all the way to medical supplies and even car washing services. You can even get your favorite fake 'Roy Bons' glasses which the seller would swear by all the gods is the real deal. No one would know it's a fake anyway, so you might as well buy them.

Buying in Accra traffic is an art that needs to be learned and perfected. The hawkers know the timing of all the traffic lights and use them to their advantage. Once the traffic light go red, it's a free for all scramble by hawkers. If you are driving a good looking car, some young men would start giving your car an express car wash for a fee. This exclusive premium service is not offered to public transport vehicles or people driving rickety cars.  

When buying in traffic, you need to be careful the hawker doesn't get away with your money. There's really no time to bargain. Once the hawker states a price, you state a counter price and if you both can't agree, don't waste time haggling just go your way. If you come to an agreement, take whatever you are buying, show the hawker your money and take your change before you hand over the money. Anything else and you could lose your money. The traffic lights would go green, other drivers would start honking at you and the hawker would have sold you a nice pack of disappointment.

The formula for buying traffic are as follow:

if price is Gh¢5.00 buy at ½ x Price
if price is Gh¢10.00 buy at < Gh¢7.00
do not bargain if price is < Gh¢1.00

Faith is buying an electric bulb in Accra traffic with no means of testing but hoping it works when you get home.

One thing you have to admire about the hawkers in Accra is their fitness level and determination. They will chase you vehicle for quite a while to get you to buy their wares and their mastery of flattery is unrivaled.

Hawking on the pedestrians' walk way is also a tricky business. Sanitation officers frequently come along with batons and whips to clear the walkaway. The hawkers are always ready to pack their wares and take to flight and return the moment the officers leave. Even in the midst of flight, they would still find time to sell to you if you are interested.

When shopping in crowded areas like bridges one needs to be aware for pickpockets and opportunistic thieves who are more than eager to relieve you of your not so heavy wallet.

Shopping in Accra also offers door-to-door services. This is usually done by children who are too young to be working but are anyway. These merchants usually deal in groceries and other basic kitchen ingredients. It's usually difficult to bargain with these kids as the usual response in, “My mother said it is Gh¢5.00”.

The Accra Mall will find you where ever you are in Accra. Whatever you are looking for, it's sold in some corner around you, no need to go to the Tetteh-Quarshie interchange. You will find it if you look hard enough.