Monrovia Street Sellers Lament Drop in Customers

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A weeklong survey of the nation’s capital, Monrovia by the Daily Observer revealed a drastic reduction in the number of consumers frequenting the markets and other major business centers.

Most of the major market buildings were completely without customers leaving frustrated and worried sellers sitting idle behind makeshift stalls as their unsuspecting children played happily around them.

Hardship has begun to bite hard in many homes due to the steep decline in sales. Many street sellers have begun to complain constantly about the loss of business as the buying power of fellow Liberians head for more misery and suffering.

The sellers, most of whom were in an angry mood, pointed out that if the trend in commercial decline continues, they foresee lots of trouble ahead for the country.

The small business sector also sounded serious warnings to the Liberian Government to take practical steps to relieve their situation such as easing commercial interactions with rural Liberians in the months ahead.

The small business Liberians further explained that non- essential civil servants being asked to stay home has considerably contributed to the drastic decline in transactions in Monrovia’s business districts.

“We are gravely affected by the slowdown and shutdown of major institutions and entities owing mainly to the onslaught of the deadly Ebola virus in the country,” a small businessman exclaimed.

Others argued that placing restrictions on the movement of critically needed goods and services across the country is imposing multiple negative effects on ordinary Liberians, especially small businesspeople.

The three major food crop producing counties of Lofa, Nimba and Bong, have been hardest hit by the deadly Ebola virus and farming activities in those counties have drastically dropped as both lowland and upland farmers have abandoned their farming activities.

As a result of the Ebola set back, the prices of local produces such as country rice has dramatically increased in most of Monrovia’s urban markets.  Retailers of the country rice at the Red-light and Duala Markets in Monrovia have complained of the commodity’s scarcity for the past five months.

Sadly, urban markets in Monrovia and its environs have been gravely affected by the dramatic drop in locally produced and grown produce that should be coming from rural Liberia.  

In separate interviews with the Daily Observer last week, some small businesspeople called on the Liberian Government to relax restrictions on the movement of critically needed locally grown and produced commodities in Liberia.

Even charcoal producers and wholesale traders are being affected due to the restrictions that continue to hamper the movement of goods to and from urban Monrovia’s markets.

“We continue to encounter too many restrictions at some of the security check points while conveying the charcoal to the urban markets in Monrovia,” Charcoal dealer Kollie Yonton lamented.

Small businesswoman Mamawa B. Morris, 44, of the Red-light Market in Paynesville pointed out that she is now out of business due to the scarcity of locally produced and grown commodities in Monrovia.

She also intimated that producers of rice and other essential commodities in many parts of the country are not producing at normal levels due to the extent to which the deadly Ebola virus is spreading in hard hit communities.

Samuel B. Seaton, 48, a retail seller of locally grown and produced peanuts (ground nuts) told the Daily Observer that the scarcity of the commodity is primarily due to the low production as a result of the Ebola virus plaguing the farming communities across the country.

Peanut retailer Seaton indicated that for the past five months sellers at the Duala Market have been unable to get peanuts that should be coming from rural producers.

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