Business Turns Tough for Store and Shop Owners at Red Light

Retail sellers buy from shop and store owners to sell around, but with the eviction of sellers, things have turned around.

Store and shop owners who were privileged to remain at Red Light have nothing much to make them joyous in the absence of the thousands of street sellers who were converging there every day to transact business.

The traders, whose goods were bought almost every minute, have come to the point where it could take hours before seeing a single customer.  Retail sellers buy from shop and store owners to sell around, but with the eviction of sellers, things have turned around.

“Things are not really good now since people started going to the Omega Market.  They used to buy our goods frequently here, but since the end of last week, we cannot receive buyers.  Things are not okay man,” T-Max, a trader selling floor mats said.

A store hand, identified as Kennedy, spoke to the reality that not many buyers go to buy in the store where he works.  “Not many buyers come here now.  I load goods on cars for this store and take goods for customers to the parking lot in my wheelbarrow.  Before the people left, we were busy working every day, but now it is very difficult because most of the buyers have gone to Omega,” Kennedy said. 

According to Kennedy, the only sellers who are refusing to leave Red Light now are the ones selling frozen meat products.  

“As you can see across there, they will go and buy the frozen meat and hide between the houses to sell.  They cannot come on the road or open space because the police will chase them and collect their goods for disobeying,” Kennedy said.

Storeowners, however, believe that their customers will still come to them at Red Light to buy goods since there are not many stores in the Omega area from where they would buy goods for retail.  

“Buyers will come.  It is still soon because the people are just leaving, and there are not many stores over there to get our customers to stop there to buy,” another store owner who refused to be named said.

The relocation of marketers from Red Light to Omega began on July 10.  This was a shock to many marketers, even though they are aware that the government would take such an action one day to get them off this entry point to the capital.

Police officers are patrolling there daily to ensure that the stubborn marketers do not return to spread their goods all on the road to hinder the ongoing road work.  

It is however reported that during the evening hours to the night, marketers do return to Red Light with their goods, a disobedient situation that will leave the area filled with dirt, but at most without hindering traffic.

The relocation of sellers has reduced activities of thieves referred to as “zogos.” Nevertheless, those who are still operating there may not be finding it smoothly to carry on their activities.  When the Daily Observer visited Red Light on July 13, a dead body was seen lying by the roadside drawing the attention of passersby.  

“Ooo woman nine months.  Whose own is this?  Maybe he went to do their Zogo thing and he met up with his own,” said a woman selling hand sanitizer and other goods.

Even though many people welcome the decision of relocating sellers to Omega, the repercussions are beginning to reflect tough encounters for sellers and non-sellers.  The Omega Market is in a lowland area at the edge if a swamp, a marsh area of sorts, and there is only one narrow road from the main Kakata highway going there.

People from communities extending as far as Fendell and Careysburg and from the northeastern part of the county use this highway to enter Monrovia.  The presence of the sellers in Omega has caused unbearable traffic congestion that vehicles are finding it difficult to move.

Sellers are again using the roadside to spread their goods to transact business, though the Omega market site is off the main road nearly a mile away from the main road.  The Federation of Road Transportation Union (FRTUL) that receives parking fees from drivers but without any organized parking station and a terminal in the country, has also moved there, contributing to the traffic congestion in the area that has no ideal space for vehicle parking.

Additionally, the Omega Market ground itself is not adequately prepared for market sellers to move.  It lacks warehouses and toilet facilities for the thousands of sellers.  Community dwellers surrounding the market ground are complaining about embarrassment from sellers requesting access to restrooms in their homes.  

“The sellers are coming to us every day asking to use our restroom. Why will I give my inside-bathroom to strangers in numbers to use?” one community member complained.

In 2018, Montserrado County Senator Saah Joseph promised to complete the market to get sellers out of Red Light, but after the election that took him to the Senate, the intervention came to a standstill.