Omega Marketeers Threaten to Return to Red Light Again

Market sellers struggle in flood with their goods after heavy rainfall

Marketeers at the Omega Market in Paynesville have threatened to return to Red Light if the  Liberia National Police fail to remove vendors who are still refusing to leave the area.

This is the second time the marketeers have issued the threat against the government’s decision to relocate them to Omega, the marketing ground designated by the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration to relocate marketers from Red Light.

The Government of Liberia decided in July to relocate marketeers from Red Light to create the enabling environment for the road construction project from Parker Paint to ELWA Junction to move on.  As the marketeers were there, the project experienced delays because it was difficult to operate the equipment among the thousands of vendors who spread their wares on the roadside to sell.

While some street sellers have remained adamant to adhere to the government’s mandate, those who have complied say the non-compliant ones are cutting off business from those who have moved to Omega Market.

The Omega sellers, the majority of them women, have complained that they are finding it difficult when it comes to marketing activities at the Omega market, therefore they are calling on President George Weah to ensure that petty traders in Red Light are finally removed.  

“President Weah, if you don't want your efforts to go in vain, please remove the sellers in Red Light,” a spokesperson for the compliant marketeers said.

According to them, the presence of sellers in Red Light is making it difficult for customers to go to the Omega market to buy from them, thereby slowing down their businesses, much of which is in perishable goods.

“The people in Red Light are not better than us. But for us, we decided to obey your mandate to come to Omega.

“We are giving you an ultimatum. If you cannot remove the sellers in Red Light, we will return to Red Light to join them,” the spokesperson said.

At the early stage of their removal, many complained that there were no spots for them at Omega to sell. But the government responded by stepping in and making more space available. According to the disenchanted marketeers, as of September, they have more free tables at Omega to accommodate everybody, and those who remain at Red Light are not there because of space but to sell since business goes faster there.

“Since we came here to Omega on July 12, 2021, we have not gone back to Red Light to sell, but others have returned to Red Light to sell," said Bolu Massaway, a red oil seller.

Madam Massaway alleged that the police officers assigned to Red Light are the ones encouraging the traders to remain in the area because they are allegedly collecting money from marketeers daily to allow them to sell.

“We just understood that the police are collecting bribes from the sellers in Red Light. When you come from Barnesville and see people selling in Red Light, you will not come to Onega to buy. We are losing daily,” she said.

As school is about to resume, Madam Massaway fears that, because their goods are not bought, she might not raise enough money to register her children in school. 

She and her colleagues have threatened to block the road for university students going to Fendell not to have school if their children do not go to school.

“If our children cannot go to school, we will make sure to block the road to stop students at UL from going to class,” Madam Massaway threatened.

Martha Andrews, a dry fish seller, called on President Weah to make sure that sellers in Red Light are forcefully removed.

“President Weah, please remove sellers in Red Light. Since we came here in July, no business. Since this morning, I put my goods outside and nobody has come to ask for it," Madam Andrews said.

Miatta Marvin, who sells children’s clothes, also explained that others are selling in Red Light peacefully while stores and shop owners are still selling retail to the petty traders in Red Light, but those who are in Omega are finding it difficult to get customers.