Informal Control and Safety Measures of Street Hawkers: Narratives from Costermongers

Alhassan Abdullah, Hajara Bentum, Peter Dwumah, Nelson Gyasi-Boadu, Mohammed Nurudeen Musah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The risk and livelihood challenges of street traders have been a major concern for governments in African countries. The number of young people and adults who engage in street-related commerce continues to increase daily within major cities in Africa. Whilst city authorities strive to regulate the activities through formal legislation and regulatory institutions, evidence shows that street hawkers fail to adhere to these regulations but develop informal control and safety measures. In this study, we explored informal measures adopted by costermongers, who are part of the most vulnerable informal traders due to their business operation area and nature of conducting business. We engaged in qualitative in-depth interviews with 17 costermongers in Kumasi, Ghana. Narratives from the costermongers were thematically analysed, and common patterns reported. Evident from the narratives is that costermongers established informal groups (association) with regulations that promote their safety and welfare. Through the groups, regulations on social support provision and the number of traders required to approach a car at the tollbooth are instituted. These regulations ensure both costermongers’ needs, and their challenges, such as being knocked down by vehicles, are curtailed. The findings provide evidence on the existence of strong informal network of support and regulations which could be tapped to support and formally regulate costermongers’ activities. The evidence provides support to the bottom-up approach of regulating informal economy through collaborative policy formulation between state institutions and street hawkers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-531
Number of pages17
JournalUrban Forum
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Costermongers
  • Ghana
  • Hawkers associations
  • Informal regulations
  • Street hawkers
  • Well-being


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