By Yankuba Jallow
The months February and March have witnessed the demolition of shops and restaurants and many of the vendors and grocery owners lost their establishments. The KM and the Coastal area of Turn-Table at Brusubi, have been busy areas where many people built their shops and fast food restaurants for the purpose of making more sales because the area is a hub for commercial and other business activities. The demolition of the structures was seen to be done by officers of the PIU who were dressed in their usual riot gear. Some of the destructed materials from the shops and restaurants were left in the open. All the demolished structures were destroyed in their entirety. Most of the shop keepers/vendors rely solely on the proceeds made from their daily sales to sustain themselves and their families as well as take care of their other needs. This reporter went round the areas where the shops and restaurants were demolished, and saw that no shop or restaurant operated since the demolition exercise.
Speaking to some of the petty traders at West Field, many expressed sadness and anger that the action of the authorities took them by surprise; that they thought the New Gambia will bring them peace and promote their welfare. They said the demolition left them with no option of survival through their businesses except to start from scratch. On the reasons of making such comments, the vendors said there are no available shops to cater for the people whose structures and business entities were destroyed; that instead the demolition has pushed them to venture into any means of sustaining a new livelihood.
“Now that they have succeeded in damaging our shops, what do they have for us next? It is frustrating because since the demolition took place, life has gone against us and we are suffering”, one vendor told this reporter. “We are calling on the Government to build markets that will accommodate all of us. The authorities have demolished our shops and we are waiting to see what their next action will be”, he said.
At the Serrekunda main market, police officers confront vendors and passers-by including wheel barrow owners. In the early hours of the morning at around 6:30 am, police officers were present at the market junctions to block vehicles and wheel barrow owners from passing across and through the market. At the Serrekunda Market, this reporter saw food stuff spread and sold on the bare ground without any form of cover or protection. This according to the vendor whose merchandise it was, is caused by lack of space in the market where they can sell.
Foroyaa will continue to engage the relevant authorities to see what they have in store for the displaced vendors.