The government of Liberia, through the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs has finally relocated marketers of the Ma Juah market, who for the past eight years have been temporarily squatting on a parcel of land inVai Town near the Gabriel Tucker Bridge that connects Monrovia to Bushrod Island.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, on Friday, officially dedicated and turned over to the leadership of the old Ma Juah market the newly renovated premises that previously hosted the Liberia Tractor Company (LIBTRACO) in Waterside.
The new site was secured through a lease arrangement between the office of the President and the owners of the property on a long term basis. She promised to make the first buy as soon as the marketers have completed their relocation and begun to use the facilities.
President Sirleaf admitted that it took a long time to secure a new long term site but was delighted that this was finally resolved. “For close to eight years we had a problem finding premises that would be really suitable to accommodate the large number of people and to give them a place where they could do their business with some comfort, space and facilities including water and latrines,” she said, adding, “We had to make sure when we moved the marketers, we moved them into a better place,” President Sirleaf said.
She praised the collaboration of all those who worked with the Ministry of State to make the relocation a success, noting that as a result of all parties working together as a team with a very strong commitment, today she can say that her promise has been fulfilled. “I’m so glad that we finally did it,” she said.
In separate remarks earlier, the Monrovia City Mayor Clara Doe Mvogo, president of the Liberia Marketing Association Lusu Sloan, and the supervisor of the Ma Juah Market, Dad Sumo Wonkulah thanked President Sirleaf for sponsoring the initiative and stated that they were very appreciative of the new premises. They said that although it had been eight years in the making they were also happy that the relocation finally became a reality.
The building was turned over to President Sirleaf by Albert Saingbe, head of finance and administration at the Liberia Reconstruction and Development Company.
It is very easy for markets to spring up in Liberia as there seem to be no enforced policies or regulations that dictate how or where a market should be established in Liberia. Marketers search for front views where their produce and merchandises can’t be missed by customers. As a result, most often they end up crowding the main streets right in front of pedestrians. This might have been the same factor that led to the establishment of the Ma Juah market in Vai Town, though market authorities say it was not the case.
According to them, marketers began selling at the Vai Town location initially on an Easter Sunday in 2006 when their market tables were broken down in the Waterside market by officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) under the directive of Munah Sieh-Brown, who was Police Director at the time.
Meanwhile, prior to the relocation exercise, marketers at the Ma Juah Market, which is named in honor of the grandmother of President Sirleaf, have been protesting the move complaining that the space in the new premises is inadequate for them and the location lacks the potential for business to boom. Some of the sellers have expressed their disappointment over the process as well as the environment designated for the relocation.
There were about 500 to 600 marketers occupying the old site in Vai Town, but the new location, according to reliable sources, can only host between 200 and 250 vendors. They also complained of the poor drainage system at the new site.
Besides the drainage being too small, during heavy downpour of rain, people have to wear boots to enter market area. It is also no secret that during continuous rainfall, the nearby Messurado River overflows and runs through pipes that are connected to the building thereby causing serious havoc, reports say.
Market authorities told reporters in Monrovia that they are not against development even though any relocation process carries its own pains, losses and benefits. However, if the process must be welcomed by the beneficiaries, somewhere better should already be set aside because relocation has its own impact on business people.