By Mustapha Jallow
Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC) has on Wednesday, 27 August, finally demolished the stalls at the Taboboto market along the Serekunda-Brikama Highway and ordered the vendors, who are mostly women, to relocate to Abuko market.
In the ensuing demolition of the structures in the presence of the municipal police, there was tension between the affected vendors and officials and which resulted in the arrest of one of the women vendors who was later released, according to sources.
The vendors are complaining that the place where the municipal authorities want them to relocate to is far away and not favourable to them in terms of sales.
“You have more customers in Tabokoto than Abuko and transferring there means lesser sales for us,” said one of the women vendors, who prefer anonymity.
The others complain that they have been selling at the Tabokoto market for the past 20 years and cannot just be evicted like that without being offered a better alternative. They indicated that it would even be better if the authorities were to find another place for them in Tabokoto than Abuko.
“Tabokoto is closer to us in terms of proximity as most of us live within the vicinity and having to pay fares to and from Abuko every day will really affect the small earnings we get from the daily sales,” said another woman vendor.
Seedy Ceesay, a fish seller, said the timing of the eviction is really not favourable as the Tobaski feast is fast approaching and they depend entirely on their business to attend to the needs of this event.
“School is also going to re-open and where would we get money to settle school bills of the children, Tobaski feast and other basic needs if we are evicted from this market,” said Ceesay.
He further explained that even if they were to transfer to this new market at Abuko, it would take a long time for them to settle down.
“How long would it take us to settle down at this new place, maintain our old customers and get new ones?” he asked.
All the vendors are therefore appealing to the president of the republic to intervene for KMC to allow the Tabokoto market to operate as before as many families are dependent on it for their livelihoods.
One of the regular customers at the market, Mariama Bah, expressed concern over the relocation of the market from Tabokoto to Abuko.
“I am a resident of Tabokoto and having a market near me makes life easier for me. But if this market is to be transferred to Abuko, it would mean more hardship for us as we would be travelling long distances or paying fares every day,” she lamented.
She also appealed to the authorities to reconsider this decision of relocating the Tabokoto market.
A source reported that in the ensuing melee, a vendor named Isatou was briefly arrested and released.
According to a four days’ notice, dated 17 August 2015, issued to the vendors from KMC, it is stated “The current location of your business at the Tabokoto/Wellingara Junction is considered as an obstruction to ideal town planning by the Municipal authority.
“Consequently, you are hereby given notice to relocate your business preferably to the Abuko Market where there is ample space on or before Friday 21 August 2015.
“In the event of non-compliance, Council will be left with no option but to employ the full force of the law to ensure maximum compliance.”
When this reporter visited the KMC headquarters yesterday to get the version of officials on the issue, he was told that the PRO was on a meeting.
Foroyaa will however make efforts to contact the Municipal authority to raise the concerns of the affected vendors and get an official response.