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Lawsuit against Sekondi Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly dismissed

The Sekondi High Court has rejected an appeal to compel the Sekondi Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly (STMA) to permit Madam Lydia Bannerman-Hull, a trader, to conduct her business on a segment of the pavement within the Central Business District (CBD).

Presided over by Dr. Bridget Kafui Anthonio–Apedzi (Mrs.), the court upheld that the STMA, as a statutory body, holds the responsibility of maintaining order within the Central Business District (CBD) of the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis.

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The plaintiff sought a declaration that the STMA’s prevention of her continued pavement sales in front of H/No. 13 Liberation Road, Takoradi, where she had operated for over 15 years, was discriminatory.

She claimed that the Assembly had allowed a co-tenant, who became a tenant in November 2022, to set up tents in front of the pavement to operate a drug store, which she considered discriminatory and contrary to Article 17(2) of the 1992 Constitution.

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The plaintiff further requested an order directing the STMA to permit her to conduct her business on a portion of the space in front of H/No. 13 Liberation Road, Takoradi, and compensation for the financial loss resulting from the defendants’ prevention of her operations on the space.

In response, the STMA denied any discrimination and cited the Local Government Act 2016 (Act 936) and its 2017 bylaws, asserting that the type of trading the plaintiff desired was prohibited by law. They clarified that the fees collected from the plaintiff were for her trading activities in her shop on the first floor, not for trading on the frontage pavement.

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The STMA also explained that Medrugs Pharmacy began operating on the ground floor early in 2020 and obtained a permit to set up a canopy in front of its shop to comply with Covid-19 directives related to social distancing.

Dr. Anthonio–Apedzi ruled that the plaintiff’s insistence on selling on the pavement without regulation or defiance of the law was inconsistent with civility and order. She emphasized that the court could not condone wrongdoing or law-breaking.

The judge expressed concern about the flagrant disregard of bylaws in central business districts, where traders often display their wares on pedestrian walkways, and noted that allowing the plaintiff’s request would set a harmful precedent and undermine the law.

Dr. Anthonio–Apedzi stressed that a court could not ignore violations of statutes, and although the plaintiff had constitutional rights, those rights had to be exercised within the bounds of the law.

As a result, the plaintiff’s plea was dismissed, and a cost of GH₵ 5,000.00 was awarded against her.

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