Many traders in the national capital, Accra, and beyond have since the death of President John Evans Atta Mills halted their traditional trades to join in the sale of the late president’s funeral paraphernalia to grieving citizens nation-wide.
Business was also booming for hospitality service providers, particularly food vendors, as thousands of people from across the country, the continent and the world at large converged on Accra to bid farewell to the late president.
Taxi operators, commercial bus drivers, textile manufacturers, printing and publishing companies and petty traders among others all took advantage of the nation’s heartache to make some money in creative ways, but some unconscionably.
In the run up to the December 2008 general elections, the late President Mills, then a candidate, assured the electorate of his desire to put money in their pockets so as to empower them economically.
Little did he know that such a campaign pledge will be fulfilled not only in his lifetime, but also in his death.
Following President Mills’ demise, traders who took to the sale of his funeral and party paraphernalia had enough to fill their pockets.
Forty-six year-old Madam Felicia Naa Kwaaley Owoo, a trader at the Rawlings Park in Accra, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS on August 9, that she had been making about GH˘2,000 a day from the sale of President Mills’ funeral and party paraphernalia to the general public.
Her wares included red and black ribbons, T-shirts and hats with the late president’s portraits; the approved funeral cloths, key rings and car stickers among others.
“Business is good. I get a lot of money selling these things,” she said gleefully.
By midday on August 9, Madam Owoo, who temporarily abandoned her cosmetics business to sell the late president’s funeral and party paraphernalia, had raked in GH˘1,200 from her new venture.
And to prove to the GRAPHIC BUSINESS that she indeed made that amount that day, Madam Owoo, clad in a black and red dress, carefully zipped open her money bag, which contained different denominations of Ghana Cedi notes.
“People buy the things a lot and that brings us money,” she said while protesting an assertion that she was profiting unduly from the nation’s sorrow.
“I loved him. I was sad when I heard of his death. But I had to celebrate him since I could not bring him back to life. So I decided to sell these things for people to have the opportunity to use them in mourning the president,” Madam Owoo explained.
Twenty-three year-old Maame Ekua, also abandoned her sachet water trade to sell red and black pieces of cloth on the Odorko-Kaneshie Highway.
Although she will not disclose how much she earned from her new trade, she said “since the president’s death, I have been making a lot of money selling these things.”
She was happy her wares were moving fast except that “I did not want him (Prof Mills) dead.”
“It’s true that some poeple said he did not put money in their pockets. But now, all those selling his funeral things will get a lot of money in their pockets,” she said smiling.
At the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Air Traffic Controllers had a hectic time directing air traffic as an unprecedented number of private jets and commercial airplanes carrying dignitaries from all over the world trooped in to join in the solemn farewell to the late President Mills.
Although most of the commercial carriers were still doing their normal schedules, flights that were flying below capacity suddenly went full capacity as a result of the sea of people trooping in and out of Accra, the capital.
A source at the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), the regulator of the country’s aviation industry, admitted in an interview that airport authorities were overwhelmed with the number of flights coming in at the time.
“The airport was very full and busy. There was less space for parking because a lot of planes were coming in at the same time. It was stressful but we tried our best,” the source said while pleading anonymity.
Some commercial carriers, both local and international, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS that they were still counting their gains, however, unfortunate the source of those monies might have been.
The hospitality sector, which earns its revenues from visitors, also made some gains from the late president’s funeral as guests from across the country, as occupancy rates went beyond expectation.
Checks at Alisa, Golden Tulip, Labadi Beach, La Palm Royal, Movenpick Ambassador among other high profile hotels in Accra showed that most of them were fully booked with some even referring guests to lower-star hotels in the capital.
As a result of the traders’ ingenuity in the midst of sorrow, Accra had for once, became a sea of red and black with dots of the national flag and National Democratic Congress Party (NDC) colours, as the entire country united in grief to bid farewell to His Excellency Prof John Evans Atta Mills.
The central business district of Accra, Kaneshie, Kwame Nkrumah Circle among others were flooded with red and black dresses as head porters, sachet water, cosmetic and foodstuff sellers, as well as students rushed in to do business.
At the State House, where Professor Mills was laid in state for three days, photographers were present to instantly print photographs for people who wished to memorise their presence at President Mills’s funeral through photographs.
“His death has put money in our pockets even though it is a sad way of making money,” Madam Laura Nartey, a trader at the Mankola Number Two market in Accra said.
“It is sad but we have to do business,” she said, adding that the decision to sell the funeral paraphernalia “is my way of mourning President Mills.”
“He is a good man. Even in his death, he is still blessing us with money,” she said
Source: Daily Graphic
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