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.