August 8, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai
The Presidential Coordinator of the Sewa Grounds project, Winston Ojukutu-Macauley Jr., has disclosed that only 9,000 registered street traders would be catered for after the completion of the market stalls.
He made this disclosure in an interview with Concord Times at his Lamina Sankoh Street office in Freetown last Thursday, noting that the project was progressing satisfactorily since a Chinese company took over the construction.
He claimed that each trader with a table has at least three agents selling for them the exact same goods on the street, adding that such exclaims why the public says traders are too many on the street.
“I have all the names of the traders that are registered with Freetown City Council. There are just 9,000 traders from Eastern Police to Bathurst Street, and those are the ones we are catering for,” he disclosed and added that he conducted a survey the Petty Traders Association had never done.
When quizzed about what difference the plaza would make to attract people from doing business in the street and occupy the stalls, he said the perception that doing business in the street is profitable than at the market centre was being endorsed by those who have refused to go and buy items at designated markets and instead buy them from street traders.
“The reason why we have the problem of street trading now is because we don’t have the market facilities. That is, in fact we are not enforcing the law on those displaying their wares on the street. When the plaza is completed we will have to relocate traders from Eastern Police to Bathurst Street,” he said rather confidently.
“The Chinese have done the first and the second floors and very soon they will progress to the third floor. The project itself is an eighteen month one and we are hoping to stick to that timeframe even if probably other matters that might delay the project come up,” he said.
He said the Chinese have advise that more stalls be erected but that he could not tell the exact number of stalls until the building is handed over to the government.
“We are going to have a car park that will accommodate over 250 cars. We are going to have one of the best cooling facilities in the sub-region, a child day care facility, and when the project shall have been completed we will have to take all the traders from the central business district[to the plaza],” he said with a hint of optimism.
The Sewa Grounds Project Coordinator said water would be available at the plaza as there is a water source which had been dug by the previous Korean contractors, adding that there would also be 24 hours electricity supply generated by separate power facility to the plaza.
He disclosed that the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT) are funding the project. He justified NASSIT’s intervention by asserting that their Ghana counterpart built the Makola market in Accra, which according to him, is the largest market in the sub-region.
“NASSIT will not only triple its income from the Sewa Grounds project, but it will also triple its contributors. When someone takes a stall at the plaza, that person will automatically become part of NASSIT,” he said.