The dilemma of Red Light market relocation: market sellers face difficulties as government cleans up compressed garbage
Thousands of street sellers evicted from the commercial district of Red Light a week ago, are just not finding it easy at the new site, Omega Market, to continue their businesses. Since they started finding their way to the new Omega Market, many sellers are yet to secure spots, thereby causing them to line up on the highway leading from Coca Cola Factory to Margibi, Bong and Nimba Counties.
Some are forced to sell on the wetland that extends from the highway to the main market ground. However, whenever it rains, the sellers have nowhere to go but sell in the flooded wetland.
On Saturday, July 17, sellers at Omega were seen during downpour of rain struggling to pack their goods together as the flood threatened to carry some. The sellers did not care about how filthy or polluted the flood waters might be, but braved the elements to protect their goods, as the police continued its operation at Red Light driving away stubborn sellers who refused to leave the area.
“My people, what we did that the government will treat us this way? The place is not prepared for us to come there. Why could they not wait until the dry season to fix this place better,” a market seller complained, carrying a bunch of plantains.
“Let them do their own. How long from now to 2023? Our days will come when they shall come to tell us to vote for them,” a man selling Jeans reacted to the plantain seller’s complaint.
The market building constructed for the marketers cannot accommodate all of them, and the rest of the land area for the market is a lowland that is a floodplain during the rainy season. Moreover, there are no warehouses or toilet facilities for the market sellers and they have to ask residents of the surrounding area to use their home restrooms, which poses inconveniences on both the sellers and those from whom they are seeking favor.
Furthermore, the relocation of Red Light to Omega has created traffic congestion between Coca-Cola Factory and the Omega junction that vehicles now take more than two hours to get through.
“I have spent two hours in the traffic since this morning, and I hope the media can talk about this situation facing people between here,” said a driver of a red Toyota Tacoma complained near the Coca-Cola Factory.
What is happening at Red Light?
Cleaning has been ongoing on the Somalia Drive since Saturday
This previously biggest commercial district hosting business people and criminals alike, was a place of mountains of garbage that posed health threats to marketers and the entire population nearby. The presence of market sellers there also posed impediments to the ongoing road construction from Parker Paint Junction to ELWA Junction.
With the uncontrollable dumping of dirt by street sellers and other pedestrians, the drainages constructed by the Japanese company constructing the Somalia Drive were filled with trash, especially plastic waste from used water sachets. The Ministry of Public Works and the government’s special committee set up to find solutions to the Red Light market relocation are massively cleaning up the compressed dirt that has clogged the drainages on the newly constructed four-lane road.
Since Saturday, men have been in the drainages with shovels, working alongside with road-building machines, cleaning the dirt that has been in the drainages and surface of the land for more than a year.
Red Light is a major entry point from the hinterland to and branches off to various parts of Paynesville and Monrovia, including ELWA and Duala, respectively. Like Red Light, Duala is also a filthy area occupied by market sellers, where traffic hardly flows freely.
Meanwhile, as sellers relocated at Omega complain about the new area and discrediting the government, so are others praising the government for the relocation.
“They are facing problems, but it is better for the people to go that way. This is the entry point to the capital city and it should not be dirty, especially as they are fixing the road,” a motorcyclist said.
Some passersby were also heard expressing joy for the relocation, stating, “See Red Light. I did not know Red Light was this wide and people could move there freely. People will either be telling you not to step on their goods or zogos are finding a way to steal from you,” said a passerby.
“Even though the situation is bad for the sellers, let them go. This place has been a troublesome point for people here,” said a woman passing by.
Though the relocation appears to be a laudable initiative, the decision appears now to be choking the government.
Besides the constitutional obligation to meet the needs of its citizens, the current administration and opposition are to go to the same people to seek their votes during an election. Therefore, how the George Weah Administration handles the relocation issue may cause it to lose confidence in thousands of valuable votes among market sellers, or satisfy them by reverting the decision, or reverse the decision to allow the marketers go back to Red Light which would then mean that the government is inconsistent, and out of control to maintain law and order.