-Over relocation of parking lot from main street to a privately owned property
There appears to be a glimmer of hope for a solution to the currently trending disenchantment among commercial drivers as well as their supporters, most of whom are petty traders, as a committee of religious leaders in Margibi County has begun consultations with the aggrieved parties as well as the government, through the offices of the County Superintendent and the Kakata City Mayor.
It may be recalled that on January 24 hundreds of commercial drivers, mainly under the auspices of the Federation of Road Transport Union of Liberia (FRTUL) and petty traders, marched to the offices of both the Superintendent of Margibi and the City Mayor of Kakata, demanding an immediate reconsideration of the decision to remove them from the main street of the city.
Marketers in populated towns like Kakata enjoy selling on the main road because they believe there they can attract customers, not considering the danger of accident as they spread their wares on the road, while some stand there without regard for the passage of vehicles.
Esther S. Michael and Adolphus Fallah, two spokespersons respectively for the street market women and the FRTUL accused the City Corporation of Kakata of doing business surreptitiously (secretly and not legal) with businessman Sackie Flomo, owner of the new plot designated for the relocation of the parking from the main street of Kakata without their involvement.
Ms. Michael alleged that Mr. Flomo is a friend to City Mayor Emmanuel Goll, and the two men are in a deal that is not in the interest of the general population of Kakata.
In an interview with the Daily Observer on January 24, she said that their goods are bought most often by passengers brought to Kakata by the drivers and argued that Sackie Flomo’s gift was far away from the main town, thereby posing serious security concerns for the vulnerable people.
Adolphus Fallah, in appreciation of Ms. Michael and her friends for their stand with the drivers union in Kakata, alleged that the Police had been brutal against harmless drivers and marketers.
Offices of the City Mayor and the Superintendent have advised the commercial drivers against parking on the main street of Kakata in order to curtail the numerous motor accidents, some of which have caused death.
Both the City Mayor and the Superintendent said a committee has been formed to find an amicable solution to the current disenchantment from the drivers and the marketers.
Superintendent Varnie said the religious leaders intervened by calling on the local government to allow a dialogue in order to find a suitable place for the aggrieved parties.
“We had to listen to them because we are all working in the best interest of our county. The conference held here with the religious leaders and the aggrieved residents clearly spoke to us that a period of one month, two weeks is needed to settle the matter, particularly with regard to finding of a suitable place for the drivers to move to,” Varnie told the Daily Observer recently in an interview at his office.
When contacted via mobile phone, the head of the committee comprising the County’s religious leaders said there is a hope of solution to the situation.
“We have begun the dialogue with the aggrieved parties. What we were told is that they were left out of the plan concerning the use of Sackie Flomo’s plot of land given to the City Corporation for use by the drivers and the marketers,” Bishop Emmanuel Sesay of Kingdom of God Church said.
Bishop Sesay is the head of the committee helping to resolve the issues surrounding the drivers relocation. He said he and the aggrieved parties, as well as other members of the mediation committee and the City Council went out on site seeing in order to reach a conclusion that will meet the consensus of all those involved.
“We have from now up to March 10 to reach a decision and with this time we are confident that the right thing will be done,” Bishop Sesay said.
Meanwhile, in an interview recently with the Daily Observer, businessman Sackie Flomo said it is his prayer that politics will be put aside when business or other non-political issues are discussed.
“I gave the three acres of land to the City Corporation free of charge. In fact, the negotiation requesting me to help with my land which is not far away from main Kakata started in the concluding two years of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf,” Flomo said.
He added: “Am I stupid to pay any money to people because I want them to occupy my own land I paid for? It sounds funny but I cant’t blame our people, they are challenged by the current realities.”
He said he has no plan to ask both the drivers and the marketers out of the place once occupied by them.
“I don’t want any money from them and I will not ask them to leave. The agreement is between the government, through the City Corporation of Kakata and I, not the drivers or the marketers. So they should not worry,” he admonished them.
Flomo noted that he has traveled and has seen lots of good things in other countries and, as such, he thinks that individual citizens of a country can help bring about change.
“I have signed to legal documents to which I must at all times adhere. I, too, will be running my own businesses there but I will not collect a dollar from anyone. The City Corporation will be the only authorized agency to collect the regular taxes through ticketing,” he said.