By Aja Musu Bah Daffeh
Vendors at the Brikama market have raised concerns over the environmental sanitation issues affecting their health and the other problems they are encountering there.
Talking to this reporter in an interview on 31 October 2016, a retired president of the fish market, Muhammed Lamin Saine, said he has been working in this market for more than 53 years and has been facing many difficulties over the years.
“Brikama fish market is confronted with the problem of electricity because if there is no electricity then obviously there will be no ice block and without ice block our fish will get rotten due to the heat. So to avoid spoilage, we sacrifice our time, we spend extra money to go all the way to Serrekunda in search of ice block,” he said.
He said there is a standby generator but the problem with it is the lack of fuel to operate it. He however advised the vendors to be co-operating in order to address their common concerns.
Sonah Dardoe, a female vendor, confirmed the environmental sanitation problem which affects them. “We face many difficulties, especially during the rainy season, because the whole market place becomes muddy, unhygienic and inaccessible and thus driving away customers. It also becomes very uncomfortable and unhealthy for me to sell vegetables which I place on a spread cloth on the ground as they are always covered in dust when people pass by,” she disclosed.
She explained that during the last set-setal held on Saturday, 29 October 2016, both men and women vendors gathered at the market place to clean and remove all the rubbish inside the market and were assisted by the Brikama Area Council.
“I am urging all the vendors to co-operate and exercise patient in handling the market because the market is for us and we are here in the market because this is where we earn our living and the school fees of our children no matter how difficult the situation maybe,” she advised.
Speaking on behalf of the fish vendors, both Foday Manjang, the current president of the fish market, and Saikou Drammeh, the vice president, stressed the importance of maintaining a clean market environment. They said the market lacks a proper sanitation facility due to the shortage of water.
“For every three days we the committee members pay D7, 000 to D10, 000 just to hire tractors and water tanks to clean the place,” said Manjang.
They urged the government to help them with tractors, water tanks and a cold room for the preservation of their fish catch.
Bakary Manjang, a public health officer attached to the Brikama district hospital, said the public health officers always go to the market for inspections and after which reports are made concerning the fish market in terms of hygiene. He said the fish market committee members always complain about the lack of equipment to remove waste water from the market.
The health officer added that this is a collective responsibility for both the public relation officer and the market committee members to join hands together in ensuring the cleanliness of the market which benefits the whole community.
Mr. Manjang stressed that there should be a chain of communication where all sectors can come in to play their own part, adding that the media is also playing its role in disseminating information to the general public.