The Omega Market complex, future home of Red Light market sellers, may be dedicated in October this year, on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s birthday, an architect has told this paper.
Speaking to the Daily Observer in an interview, the chief architect of the project, F. Augustus Caesar disclosed that the head of the project, Mrs. Clavenda Bright-Parker is mounting pressure on all parties to expedite the completion of the project to dedicate it on the President’s birthday on October 29 this year.
“The market is now roofed and we are assessing the level of the remaining work so as to know how much is needed to complete it,” Mr. Caesar said.
Pointing out some major works still pending, the Mr. Caesar named the running of electrical wires, plumbing, painting, building of stalls, fencing, and running of water pipes.
“It is our hope that the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) and the Liberia Water & Sewer Corporation (LWSC) will help to provide the needed utilities that are within their capacities,” he added.
According to Mr. Caesar, the new market site will have a bank, internet facilities, warehouses, school and towers for GSM companies.
As onlookers view the project now, they quickly imagine that the thousands of people congregating at Red Light for business will soon be relocated.
The newly constructed market complex has been roofed, but remaining works mentioned by Mr. Caesar are yet to be completed.
The market project is funded by the Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund, with other institutions including Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority supporting through a grand raffle draw and other activities.
The project was launched in 2013 following the dismantling of the United States-owned Omega Tower that once stood at the site. The project aims to relocate sellers from Red Light and facilitate smooth passage for vehicles and pedestrians.
There had been many attempts by past leaders to relocate Red Light marketers, but space and shelter to accommodate them were not available.
Red Light market is littered with challenges. As a result of the huge convergence of people there, controlling pedestrians, vendors, vehicle traffic and garbage appears extremely difficult.
Residents and street vendors deliberately dump dirt on the roadside, while just few inches away, other vendors spread goods for sale, near the piled up dumps.
This results in pedestrians using the main road to walk among moving vehicles.
Red Light is one of the main entry points to Monrovia from the interior and surrounding countries including Guinea and Ivory Coast.
Unlike pre-war days when marketers were not at Red Light as they are now, traffic congestion there was not felt as it is now. But since the area became a point of making business in 1997 during the Charles Taylor Administration, it has become challenging for movement of traffic and waste management.
The filth in the commercial district often gets to a point where the Paynesville City Corporation (PCC) with help of the Liberia National Police has to vigorously enforce the law, breaking down market stalls and raiding the stalls of stubborn vendors who continuously impede traffic by selling on the road side.
The road leading from the ELWA Junction to Red Light being already a narrow 2-lane corridor is regularly congested with traffic. Drivers wanting to maximize their number of trips in and out of Red Light each day, crowd the opposite lanes creating hours-long traffic jams in the vicinity.
The road on the other hand does not have a wide shoulder for vehicles to park off the main lane; consequently, drivers block traffic when they stop to get passengers on or off their vehicles.
Regardless of the constraints, police strive to enforce the law. Liberia National Police (LNP) officers were seen just this week penalizing drivers who are in the habit of impeding the flow of traffic at Red Light by impounding their vehicles to be freed upon paying US$150.