In the face of health risks occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, red flags are still flying at some major markets in Accra as some market women continue to display food items on the floor.
With the onset of the rains and its attendant health issues, including the outbreak of diseases like cholera, typhoid and diarrhoea, the unhygienic conditions under which the markets operate could compound the health challenges in the capital.
Despite numerous public education and enforcement of hygienic protocols, traders appear apathetic to food safety practises as they continue to display foodstuff on the floor with houseflies hovering over them.
Pepper being dried in the open market amidst dust
Others, too, display vegetables close to choked drains and heaps of rubbish, exposing food to possible contamination which can lead to foodborne diseases for the unsuspecting public who patronise these foodstuff.
Situation at Agbogbloshie
At Agbogbloshie, one of the largest markets in Accra, the muddy ground served as the drying place for cereals, grains, and vegetables such as onions, and cabbage.
Wet food items were not spared by flies from chocked and stinking open drains closer to them while passersby also stepped on them.
Fresh vegetables are sold under unhygienic conditions
Fresh vegetables such as cabbage, garden eggs, tomatoes, carrots, and kontomire were also seen displayed on dirty onion sacks next to open drains as the market women called out for buyers.
Ramatu Mustapha, a pepper seller, told The Mirror that they suffered a lot of losses because of poor storage conditions for their goods.
Fresh vegetables on an open gutter
“When it rains, all the pepper get wet because we do not have a good place to store them and even if we manage to dry them, we are not able to get the needed patronage and run at a loss.”
Awareness of actions
Some of the traders affirmed their awareness of the public health implications of selling food under unhygienic conditions.
“The AMA does not allow us to sell or display food items on the ground. They come here to seize our foodstuff every day, but sometimes we don’t have any option because there is no space for tables, this is how we manage it,” a trader said.
A woman sorting onions from the ground
Mary Bindon, a trader at Agbogbloshie, admitted that some customers preferred foodstuff displayed on tables to those on the ground, even though others would still patronise foodstuff sold on the floor.
Garden eggs and pepper displayed on a dirty polythene on the ground
“The ones on the ground usually lose their value so most customers prefer the ones we have on tables but sometimes, because the ones on the ground are in baskets, they buy them too,” Mary explained.
Some consumers who spoke to The Mirror team said they were not happy that despite the outbreak of diseases, the market women did not care about the health of Ghanaians.
Open gutters in the markets are all filled with garbage
“We see dust all over fresh fruits and vegetables such as banana, tomatoes, onion, kontomire, cabbage, among others.
“As for those closer and on the gutters, you can just imagine the diseases they contain. That’s why I don’t buy food displayed on the floor,” Ms Priscilla Mensah, a food vendor told The Mirror.
Heaps of refuse at the CMB Market
Ms Francisca Glavor, also a vendor stated that “they are not hygienic so I don’t buy them. I rather prefer more hygienic ones that’s why I am very discriminatory when I come to the market”.