Sanity at Red Light

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The congested commercial district of Red Light has for the first time in ages gained sanity since becoming the convergence spot for marketers during the administration of former Liberian President, Charles Taylor.

The cleaning of the area began on Friday, June 10, following a vigorous law enforcement exercise led by the Liberia National Police (LNP) upon request by Paynesville City Mayor, Cyvette Gibson. The police have a 90-day mandate to ensure that vendors and motorists comply with city regulations regarding the use of the road as well as maintaining the clean environment every day.

Street vendors and others who have over the years been keeping the place filthy participated in the cleanup exercise. After times of encounter with police for selling on the road and keeping the area filthy, the vendors grouped themselves and began cleaning the filth disposed of on the main road, sweeping the rest of the areas and filling puddles with pieces of broken blocks and stones.

The cleaning continued on Saturday with police warning the marketers not to bring their wares near the road or drop dirt on the sidewalk.

“We sit in Liberia here and say Ghana is developed, but it is the Ghanaians themselves that developed their country. This is the same thing they did to develop Ghana; therefore we need to do the same if we can be like the Ghanaians,” a member of the crowd declared.

The volunteers, who befriended the police following the harsh encounters, were also cleaning the market site. They therefore promised to keep the facility perpetually clean, without waiting on national government to come and clean it for them.

“It is our business to clean it for our own safety. No dropping dirt, no selling on the road,” they were heard shouting, among other slogans they coined.

Unlike the past when vehicles could hardly find space to maneuver or make way through the area, vehicles can now freely move without human interference.

All vehicles heading outside of Monrovia now park far off from the road to provide space for others, and they do not have to spend hours any longer to enter or exit.

Vehicles caught in violation of traffic laws are without compromise impounded and towed to the courtyard of SKD Sports Complex.

Pedestrians have space to walk on the road without stepping or dodging goods, and people can now inhale fresh air without holding their noses to avoid the stench of garbage.

Prior to the enforcement, the main road in Red Light leading to Kakata had been overwhelmed by garbage, while vehicles could not go to the Goba-Chop Market because of stockpiles of garbage blocking the paved road.

Predicated upon filthiness of the commercial district, coupled with blockages caused by sellers, the Paynesville City Corporation (PCC) early last week ordered the removal of sellers from the road.

Police officers were last Wednesday seen with rattans whipping stubborn vendors and breaking down their make-shift stalls. Since then, police presence has increased at Red Light as vendors are likely to return to the road with their usual attitude and behavior that poses health hazards to the residents.

Even with this welcoming development unfolding at Red Light, one condition that remains challenging there is the unimproved parking lots created by the Federation of Road Transport Union of Liberia (FRTUL).

Incorporated as the local transport union in Liberia since 1981, FRTUL has the social responsibility to build terminals for drivers and passengers in its operational areas, but has failed to do so despite numerous promises.

It may be recalled that an official of the FRTUL, Joe S. Willie, said it is part of the entity’s responsibility to build terminals in the country for vehicles and passengers, but was still finding it difficult because of lack of adequate land space.

Mr. Willie said the FRTUL Monrovia branch is contemplating building a terminal at the Omega site where the new Red Light market is to be relocated.

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