March 16, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai
The Wellington market project, which started some time in 2012, has apparently stalled, with residents, traders and stakeholders appalled at the snail pace at which the construction is being done.
Wellington, which is situated in the east-end of Freetown, has three constituencies, with a population of over forty four thousand (44,000) each. The proposed central market was to serve the densely populated district.
The construction exercise is being undertaken by MODCON Construction Company, with funds to be provided by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, but the project has grinded to a halt since 2013.
As a result, traders could now be seen displaying their wares in major streets in the community to attract customers. Thus, road accidents have been frequent on almost a weekly basis around the vicinity where traders sell their wares.
Isatu Karbgo, a trader at Water Street in Wellington, said traders have no option but to display their wares on the street because of the lack of a market centre. She added that the government started the construction of the market, which would have salvaged the problem, but that the project has since 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 said.
She added that their concern is that no one has been updating them about the status of project.
Councilor Mohamed J. Tholley of ward 350, where the unfinished market building is situated, told Concord Times that he could not tell what might have caused the hold-up to the completion of the central market.
The original market, he said, was called Palm Bridge and had been serving the community for over 50 years now, adding that it can no longer accommodate the increasing number of traders.
“Traders have taken over Water Street and the main Old Wellington Road at the moment. Their action has made it very difficult for free flow of both vehicles and pedestrians,” he said.
He acknowledged there have been reported cases of accidents every week, adding that drivers as well as commercial motorbike riders do run into 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.
The proposed market, he said, was situated at a strategic location that might be of good use to inhabitants of both the old road and those on the new road.
He said it has a youth training centre, a school and pharmacy that would serve traders and the community. “So it is more than a market centre,” he emphasised.
He said residents were very anxious to see the completion of the proposed market centre so that they could get a relief.
A source at MODCON Construction Company, who spoke to this reporter on condition of anonymity, said the proposed market project costs Le7bn, adding that the project which started in 2012 was slated to have been 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 Le1.1bn and sent it to the ministry and they in return sent it to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, but we were told the money was sent somewhere else,” the anonymous source said.
Also, a senior official at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, who asked not to be named, said lack of funding caused the halt in the construction of the proposed market. The source blamed the delay on the part of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, which should have been providing funds for the project.
However, Concord Times could not independently verify the claim from officials at the Ministry of Finance.