The Government of Liberia has with immediate effect suspended the sale of tickets, from which the Liberia Marketing Association (LMA) generates millions of dollars from marketers, for three months. The government has also warned against the sale of selling spots by the LMA to marketers, who are struggling on the wetland to secure spots to plant their stalls to sell.
The decision came following the setting up of a committee to clean market grounds across the country with special attention to the Omega Market, where thousands of marketers were sent from the previously existing Red Light Market in Paynesville.
“The committee is charged with the responsibility to ensure that the sale of table tickets by any person or institution is suspended for 3 months and there is no selling of land space to marketers at the Omega market,” says a statement from the Executive Mansion.
The LMA collects money for tickets daily at every market place across the country, and the consensus with the marketers is that it will use the money partly to address the sanitary situation on a market ground. Nevertheless, the LMA has failed to live by the contract as sellers from the Gobachop market, recently relocated to Omega, accused the market governing body of extorting money from them without any benefit.
LMA, on the other hand, attributed its shortcomings to the leadership crisis in its ranks. The overwhelming garbage at the Gobachop market was removed by the Paynesville City Corporation, which said earlier that LMA was not giving the city government garbage collection fee to remove the garbage from the market ground.
Also collecting money but with little or nothing to show for it, is the Federation of Road Transport Union (FRTUL), who collects L$1,000 from commercial drivers as parking fee, but without a secured parking lot or terminal to host drivers and passengers.
The Executive Mansion also says that, ahead of July 26, 2021, Independence Day celebration, the special presidential committee set up by President George Manneh Weah, in consultation with local government authorities, has begun a comprehensive cleanup exercise in all county capitals and the city of Paynesville.
According to the Executive Mansion, the cleanup exercise kicked off through the effective implementation of a 90-day Action Plan, beginning Friday, July 16, 2021, ahead of the July 26th Independence Day, which is celebrated by all Liberians.
The Executive Mansion’s statement also said that the 90-day Action Plan is part of the government’s reform measures on the efficient management of market grounds in the country, with an initial focus on the grounds of the newly constructed Omega Market in the City of Paynesville.
The Omega Market has in recent days been a frustrating and disastrous ground for marketers who were relocated there, as the area is a wetland and has no warehouses or toilet facilities.
The committee is headed by the Ministry of Public Works as Chair and the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) as co-chair, along with the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning(MFDP), the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), Ministry of Health (MOH), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Liberia Land Authority (LLA), the Paynesville City Corporation (PCC) and the Liberia Marketing Association (LMA).
Also, as part of their responsibility, the committee is mandated to make sure that all market sellers leave the Red Light market and move to the Omega market in a peaceful and orderly manner and, at all times, ensure the success of the 90-day Action Plan.
The statement continues, “The Government takes very seriously the health and livelihoods of every citizen, including marketers around the country, especially during these crucial times of our collective fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, being conscious that market grounds are at higher risk.”
“The government sees it as timely and prudent to intervene and maintain sanity at our market grounds, particularly for the safety of our mothers who spend a significant amount of their time in the markets,” The statement added.
President Weah pledged the government’s commitment to collect and dispose of solid waste from the Omega Market and maintain good sanitary conditions through an all-inclusive and participatory approach.
“The President assured all that the government will work with the relevant stakeholders to have, among other things, the construction of a new warehouse for marketers, the rehabilitation of the road leading to the market, ensure the cooperation of the transport union, and the installation of solar lights to enhance the safety of marketers,” the release said.
According to the release, the government, with the help of the market sellers, looks forward to full cooperation to achieve this significant goal for the sustainability and local ownership of the Omega market.