Liberia’s largest commercial market for the past 25-years has played host to hundreds of wheelbarrow peddlers from several countries in West Africa.
Regrettably, the commercial wheelbarrow peddlers have become a serious menace to the smooth movement of vehicles, pedestrians and the general business community in Monrovia and its environs.
Sadly, the general scenes at the Red Light Market in Paynesville can be described as a stressful environmental area for business transactions in every shape, form and manner.
Accordingly, each weekday of commercial activities at the Red Light Market, dozens of wheelbarrow peddlers are involved in accidents.
On top of the danger they pose, wheelbarrow peddlers defiantly overcrowd the Red Light’s narrow streets, pathways and potholes, to the detriment of pedestrians, vehicles, businesspeople and other service providers.
Early last week, a little over 15 wheelbarrows were seized and confiscated by the police for unruly behavior and other acts incompatible with road movement standards.
Correspondingly, at the mini police depot in the heart of the densely populated Red Light Market, many wheelbarrow peddlers were seen begging for the release of their wheelbarrows.
On many occasions, these wheelbarrow boys are seen in heart breaking encounters engaging police officers, drivers and small businesses, in bitter confrontation for space on the narrow streets.
It was also observed that the wheelbarrow peddlers, many of whom are nationals of several other West African countries, do not have any regard for the Liberian laws or city ordinances.
In several interviews with the Daily Observer this week, many affected commercial drivers and private car owners expressed grave concern over the attitudes of the wheelbarrow peddlers at the Paynesville Red Light Market.
Commercial driver Solomon Gonkawon, 35, claimed that the wheelbarrow peddlers are the owners of the Red Light Market’s pothole riddled streets.
Driver Gonkawon noted that several complaints had been forwarded to the leadership of the Wheelbarrow Association of Liberia (WAL) for urgent redress and solution.
He also emphasized the need for the Liberia Marketing Association (LMA) and Liberia National Police (LNP) leaderships to institute some radical approaches and regulate the movement of wheelbarrow peddlers at Red Light Market.
A small businesswoman, Bertha B. Morton, 50, called for stringent measures that will contain and control the wheelbarrow peddlers’ unruly actions on the streets of the Red Light Market.
Businesswoman Morton, a wholesale dealer of used clothing at the Gobachop mini market at Red Light, stressed the need for the coordination of the wheelbarrow peddlers’ activities.
In reaction, some wheelbarrow peddlers contended that they are paying weekly fees to the leadership of the LMA in the form of informal taxes and should, therefore, have access to the market’s streets at the Red Light.
Wheelbarrow peddler Thomas B. Bedford, 44, pointed out that the Red Light Market area has been overwhelmed and should be relocated to another area in Monrovia.
“I must come to this market every day to find my daily bread as the financial conditions in Monrovia are extremely difficult and I need to survive,” Mr. Bedford stressed.
When contacted for comments, the Red Light Market’s LMA leadership declined and only noted that plans are afoot to address the menace being posed by wheelbarrow peddlers.
Photo: Partial View of Liberia’s Largest Business district of Red Light Market