Market Women Suggest Adjustments in COVID-19 Restrictions

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In order to rejuvenate business

By Tina S. Mehnpaine, Intern Reporter

With the extension of the State of Emergency (SoE) for additional 30 days and the return of the 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. stay home restriction, scores of business owners, particularly women at the Red-light Market, have complained that there is a drastic decline in daily sales since the coronavirus outbreak.

Red-Light is the busiest market hub in Monrovia where hundreds of thousands of people gather daily to transact businesses.  In addition to residents of Monrovia, hundreds of people from the rural parts of the country come to this market to sell and buy.

The women said during periods of normalcy, the number of customers they received per day was much larger and, as a result, they would make enough money from selling to feed their children.

In an interview with some of the market women, they expressed dissatisfaction in the recent extension of the SoE meant to curtail the spread of the pandemic.

Some also said before COVID-19, they would make up to L$7,000 to L$8,000 per day but, for now, they barelu make up to L$1,000.

The women are therefore calling on the government to disregard the stay home restriction and compel everyone to wear nose masks and constantly wash hands.

“Before COVID-19, I used to earn $6,000 to $7,000 Liberian dollars from used clothes daily and use my profit to feed my three children. But because of the lockdown and many restrictions, I cannot make up to L$1,000 daily,” Rejoice Wilson, a petty business woman, said.

Ms. Wilson explained that she and her children have really been finding it difficult to earn a living since the lockdown.

“During the 21-day period, only food-stuff sellers were allowed to sell, but for us used clothes sellers, we were asked to stay home,” she said sadly.

She said she was very happy when the government first lifted the restrictions on non-food items, but since her return to the market, she has realized that her customers are no more seen and business has turned out to be tough.

Pauline Johnson sells cosmetics. She said: “We come and sit here the whole day only to receive one or two customers. This is so disheartening, how are we going to pay back the loans we took from Access Bank as it did not give us any extra time to pay back?”

According to her, she took L$50,000 from Access Bank to pay back within 9 months. She said that every month she is expected to pay L$8,000LD to the bank. Now, she said, the slowness of the busines was worrisome.

She noted that customers are complaining of the difficult economic condition of the country and are only concentrating on food now, instead of non-food items like cosmetics.

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