October 13, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai
The construction of a market in Wellington, a neighbourhood east of Freetown, that is being undertaken by the Ministry of Trade and Industry has stalled, with stakeholders including traders left in total darkness as to what is responsible for the delay.
The project, which was estimated to cost Le7bn, commenced some time in 2012.
Wellington is a densely populated area with three constituencies, each having a total population of at least 44,000 constituents, according to the 2004 Census.
The contract to construct the said market was awarded to MODCON Construction Company with funds from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, but the work had been halted since 2013.
The ugly development has affected traders who now have to display their wares on major streets in the community to attract customers, amidst looming vehicular accidents.
Isatu Karbgo, a trader at Water Street, Wellington, said they have been forced to display their wares on the street because of the lack of a market centre, adding that government had started the construction of a market that would have salvaged heir problem but the project had been stalled.
“The main market is very small to accommodate all of us. So some of us have to come to Water Street, the main old Wellington Road, among other streets, to display our wares,” she told this reporter.
She added that their concern was that no one is updating them about the project.
Councillor Mohamed J. Tholley of Ward 350, where the unfinished market is situated, told Concord Times that he was in the dark as to the delay to complete the proposed market.
The original market, he said, was called Palm Bridge and has been in the community for over 50 years now, noting that the said market could no longer accommodate the increased number of traders, as well as customers.
“Traders have taken over Water Street and the main Old Wellington Road at the moment. Their action has made it very difficult for the free flow of both vehicles and pedestrians,” he said.
He disclosed that there have been reported cases of accidents on a weekly basis and that drivers as well as commercial motor bike riders hit customers, traders and even pedestrians.
“Even the electricity cables sometimes do cut and fall on the traders and their customers. Those reports have been reaching me regularly,” he disclosed.
He said the proposed central market was going to have a youth training centre, a school and a pharmacy that would have served the traders and many other people.
He, however, said that people were very much anxious to see the completion of the proposed market, so that they could be relieved from the worries of road accidents, inadequate space among other problems that they are currently grappled with.
A source from MODCON Construction Company, who spoke to this reporter on condition of anonymity, said the proposed market project cost seven billion Leones (Le7bn) and that the project started in 2012 and was to be completed in 2014.
“We have a valuation form that we should be sending to the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) for funds. We made a valuation form of over one billion Leones (Le1.1bn) and sent it to MTI and MTI in turn sent it to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development but we were told the money was sent somewhere else,” the anonymous source said.
The source said the proposed market was supposed to be a two storey building plus an additional space below due to the topography of the land.
However, efforts by Concord Times to get an official response from the Ministry of Trade and Industry have been successful, as Director Merewether Thompson refuses to comment.