By Yankuba Jallow / Kebba AF Touray
Scuffles erupted after tension mounted at the Serrekunda Market following a massive destruction of tables belonging to vendors. This happened on Tuesday June 5th and it led to suspension of traffic on the Westfield Sabiji highway. No table was left intact by the security personnel.
The affected vendors told Foroyaa that the scuffle came about when a group of officers from the Serrekunda Police Station asked vendors to stop their ‘Koriteh’ sale along the Serrekunda Market Highway and vacate by moving into the market where space is available.
According to eyewitnesses, armed reinforcement from the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) came, when Officers from the Serrekunda Police failed in their negotiations with the vendors. They added that the vendors were then forcefully vacated, resulting in traffic interruption and that there was total pandemonium as scores of people seized the opportunity of the ‘Koriteh’ sale to buy various good and products in preparation for the forthcoming feast of Eid El Fitr.
The displaced vendors expressed their frustration and disappointment about the incident and said the authorities have been unfair to them, after paying their market dues.
“We are Gambians and we deserve fair treatment from the authorities particularly the Police who have destroyed our tables and forcefully evicted us from our places. Today our daily dues of 10 dalasi, has been collected from us by those responsible for this regrettable action. They are asking us to go inside the market knowing that such sales cannot take place inside the market. The payment for a stall inside is expensive and the location of those stalls are not strategic,” they said.
Modou Ceesay, the President of ‘One Gambia’ SerreKunda Market Committee, said the incident boiled down to the eviction of vendors who sell along the high way, to relocate inside the market, which he said can accommodate only 200 vendors; that selling along the main road affects movement of people, goods, services and vehicles.
He cited that they are not totally opposed to the “Wanteer” or ‘Koriteh’ sale, but that the vendors should not sell along the main road to disrupt the free movement of goods and services.
“We discussed the matter with the Mayor of the KMC, but he initially advised us to negotiate with the Market Manager, Dodou Gomez, and one Kanjura. During the discussion, Gomez said he has the final say in the matter and that there will be ‘Koriteh’ sale. After our last meeting, the Mayor Bensouda sent a delegation and called for the “Wanteer” to stop,’’ Ceesay said. All committee members of the ‘One Gambia’ Market foundation, lamented the same issue, that selling on the highway disrupts the free movement of goods and services to the extent that some customers do not reach inside the market; that they are not however opposed to the ‘Koriteh’ sale.