…as gov’t reverses FCC communique but Council cries foul
NOVEMBER 28, 2014 By Patrick J. Kamara
Dozens of petty traders along Abacha, ECOWAS and Malama Thomas streets yesterday applauded government for overturning a proposed ban on trading on Fridays and Sundays imposed by the Freetown City Council (FCC).
Mayor Franklin Bode Gibson had in a communiqué announced the measures this week, but his proposal was reversed by the central government almost immediately, leaving hundreds of petty traders jubilant.
Fatmata S. Conteh, a hawker along Abacha Street, told Concord Times that the decision by the FCC to proscribe street trading within the municipality on Fridays and Sundays was not a unanimous agreement between the traders and the council.
“It would have had a big impact on traders if the decision would have stayed. This is a witch-hunt; first FCC told us to be packing our markets at 6pm each day. We have agreed to that, and now they want us to stop selling on Fridays and Sundays without informing us,” she claimed.
Akhmed Koroma, a trader along Malama Thomas Street, alleged that the FCC was notorious for taking decisions against traders without first engaging them. He told Concord Times that they only became aware of the decision when an FCC vehicle was passing and voicing the announcement. He noted that it was unfair to stop them from trading, and praised the central government for reversing the decision.
“We are against the decision taken by City Council as it is unfair to us. We have abide by the 6pm parking and wearing of long sleeves on every market day, but to stop us from trading on Sundays and Fridays will affect us greatly, thanks to the government for listening to us,” he noted gleefully.
However, both chairladies of the Salad Ground and Abacha Street markets, Salamatu Sesay and Jatu Conteh respectively, confirmed to this medium that the FCC had invited them to a meeting on the issue and they had agreed to it.
According to FCC Public Relations Officer, Cyril Mattia, the decision to ban trading activities on the stipulated days was reached at a meeting with the Sierra Leone Traders Union (SLTU), and that the rationale was to reduce congestion within the central business district.
He said a communiqué was signed by thirty-three (33) chairladies of various markets within the municipality and that it would have taken effect today (28 November). He said the last minute decision by the central government to “intrude” and debunk the communiqué was more or less undermining their work, adding that the government didn’t inform council prior to reversing the ban.
“It was the government’s idea that prompted us to come up with the communiqué, but if they have suspended it for a while as they claimed, it means they are undermining the work of FCC,” he said.