Street hawking is nothing new to the big city of Accra and its busy roads, and very few people find something wrong with it because it is more convenient for people, than it is chaotic for roads and dangerous for the hawkers, especially children.
You can cancel a few things off your shopping list while commuting from one end to another in a ‘Troski'[public transport] or your personal car, and still get a chilled bottle of soda to cool you off from these street hawkers.
One striking thing about street hawking for me, are these children involved who are constantly chasing flying monies that have been dropped by a buyer from a moving car or chasing fast moving cars for their monies a passenger could not take out of their purse or wallet in time before the traffic light switched to green.
These children do it with so much bravery that you cannot help but wonder what drives them to put their lives in front of danger every day. No, ‘danger’ is too mild a word to qualify what these children open themselves to. They literally present their lives on a silver platter to death.
Most of them sell for people who don’t care whether or not they are at risk of dying on the job.
Some also have parents who are very unhappy about their children selling, but that is the only way their families can have a day’s meal.
From my interaction with some of these child hawkers, I found out that most of them sell because that is the only way they know how to survive and have no other option than to accept the risk.
I approached a couple of them to try and understand what drives them and how they manage to survive every single moving fast vehicle.
Most of them earn less than 25% of whatever they sell, and in a situation where a car moves before a passenger pays for something they bought, they would have to replace the money lost with money from their less than 25% cut.
I saw 13-years old Fatima chasing a two Ghana Cedis note a passenger from a ‘Troski’ had hurriedly dropped on the busy road of Airport Second as fast-moving cars drive by her.
Looking at her from the pedestrians walkway, all I saw was a little girl who had no concern for the fast moving cars around her, all she could see and care about was the flying two Ghana cedis.
Fatima, who is in primary 5, goes to school from Monday to Friday, and has been selling Brukina on Saturday and Sunday for almost 6 months to support the family and her education.
Fatima’s mother is not physically capable of hawking so she makes the Brukina whiles Fatima and her other siblings do the selling.
“I am afraid, but if I stop selling that means I would have to stop schooling, I only sell when the cars stop but sometimes the cars move without the person paying, so they drop the money on the floor or else I have to chase the car, but this only happens sometimes, ”she said.
She said she feels sad sometimes when she sees other children her age in a car going to school with their parents, who do not have to sell as she does to carter for herself.
16-year old Opoku who also sells Brukina on the street of Opeibea second close to Stanbic Height, said he is not afraid because he is always extra careful when he is in between the lanes and makes sure he is never caught in between the lanes when the traffic light switches from Red to Green.
He said in a day he makes about one hundred and fifty Ghana Cedis out of which he earns 25 Ghana cedis every day, and spends 10 Ghana cedis on food.
He doesn’t have to worry about money for transportation because he walks home, which is all the way in Madina.
He said he has been selling for a year now, and has been able to save up to 500 Ghana cedis.
He also added that he has plans of learning a vocation in tiling.
“I come here seven days in a week to sell, I dropped out of school because my parents could not support me so I left Kumasi for Accra to come live with my uncle, to hustle and make some money. My uncle’s wife makes the Brukina, I sell for her, she takes her cut and gives me mine. There are really bad days when cars drive away with my money because the green light came on before I could get my money. Just last week someone was knocked down by a motorbike. It is sad but we live by God’s grace and faith,” he said.
Fuseini, who is popularly known as ‘Hyspirit’ by his friend for his incredible” Kasahari’’(rap) skills is 18-years, he sells for a woman who is quite generous to him and a couple of other children who also sell for her.
He said she gives them a place to sleep and also cooks for them three times in a week.
He said there are very good days where he makes up to 250 Cedis which means he doubles his regular cut which 25 Ghana cedis to 50 Ghana Cedis.
He was generous enough with a little of his selling to give me very entertaining freestyle in Kasahari [Rap] and I was very impressed.
He later played some of his studio recorded songs which he had on his phone for me to listen, and all the other children sang along.
“I have been selling since last year  August, the woman I sell for is very generous, she accommodates me and nine others and she also cooks for us, there are very good days I make more. I am not afraid of selling here because God will not bring me all the way from the house to allow me to die on these roads. He would have killed me before I get here, so God is the one watching us,” he said.
He said he is still pursuing his music career along-aside his daily street hawking.
In as much as I do not support street hawking most especially children hawking, I really admire their bravery, but these busy roads are no place for an adult talk-less of a child.
The government has to revisit the issue of street hawking most especially when it comes to these little ones.
These kids deserve more than having to come face to face with these deadly roads on daily basis.