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…in search of wele, keta school boys and an obroni wawu coat

Once upon an incredibly short weekend, I went with the missus to the Tema Community One Market to shop for dry fish fingerlings (Keta schoolboys), fresh cow hide (wele) and some fresh vegetables for a meal of Savanna ‘TZ’, see? The missus seemed to know her way around place and we were done with the task in minutes. About a month later, I ventured back to the place alone and found myself trapped deep in the Labyrinth of Crete!

Even a veteran bush ranger armed with a state of the art compass of the future will get hopelessly lost in that market if he is entering the place for the first time. A labyrinthine maze of needle-narrow passage ways form a very complex network of connecting routes through the vast expanse of stalls and storerooms selling everything with a name.



So hemmed in is this vast but stuffy commercial enclave, that a first time visitor is easily gripped by a feeling of claustrophobia. So narrow are the passageways through the market that two adults cannot walk abreast through them.

Oh yes, visit the Tema Market and see things for yourself. It is unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable. The Lord forbid, but should the kind of fires which have been sweeping through markets across the country in recent years ever occur at the Tema Community One Market when the place is busy, talking of a possible catastrophe would be an understatement.

There is no way any fire engine can get into the heart of that market place save it were preceded by a fire-proof bulldozer with hydraulic wheels, whatever that might be!

In the event of a fire, it would be practically impossible to get out of the place, not with hundreds of people trying to stampede through those connecting fairy tunnels. There are no emergency exits in this huge potential trap.

The Abossey Okai automobile spares market at Kaneshie is another national commercial death trap. If the market has been spared a major fire to date, it is probably because the good Lord Himself would not be able to stand the likely scale of its devastation if one occurred there.

The market fires which keep breaking out across the country are often attributed to electrical faults. If that is the case, I keep asking myself why the central government, local government authorities, the Fire Service and the Electricity Company cannot engage in a bit of skull scratching and come out with a lasting solution?

Then there is the Kantamato market. The Kantamanto Market is not your ordinary market: It is not all the senior civil servants, pastors, sophisticated looking con-men and swindlers, and even corporate executives you see in dark suits who bought the stuff from upmarket stores, you know: Some bought their suits from this famous obroni wawu market off Liberty Avenue.

The last time there was a fire at that market it was like the apocalypse finally come: The market exploded in massive tongues of fire reaching out for the late night sky. Big bonfires were made of colossal amounts of goods and cash in hundreds of shops.

That was in 2012, an election year. As you might expect, politicians played psycho-poker with the  disaster. The fire broke out very late at night but vote-hungry politicians from the NDC and the NPP were at the scene in minutes to sympathize with traders wailing as if the end of the world had indeed come.

Would politicians would have rushed to the scene of the fire in those unholy hours of the night if it were it not an election year? If the answer were truly "yes" then the necessary political will should have led into improved fire safety in markets throughout the country long ago, don't you think?

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