June 14, 2021
By Elizabeth A. Kaine
King Jimmy Market, one of the oldest and popular markets in Freetown, and has for decades contributed greatly to the food supply chain from Port Loko District in north-western province – to the country’s main capital Freetown with women being in majority in trading there.
Since stay-at-home orders went into effect in mid-March, due to the pandemic King Jimmy market woman said in an interview that they felt neglected by Freetown City Council (FCC) as with all dues being paid the council cannot make the market a healthy environment for them especially during the pandemic which forced their customer stop coming to market with them.
Traders at the popular King Jimmy market have expressed grave concern over what they described as ‘poor state of the facility.’
Foodstuff traders at the King Jimmy Market have expressed dissatisfaction over what they described as poor sanitary condition of the market, thus calling on the Freetown City Council to swiftly intervene.
Chairlady of the market, Haji Adama Kamara, said over the years the market has lost all the features that qualify it to be called a market, including structure, storage facility and others and the pandemic have made things more worsen for both marketers and customers which have depreciated sales.
She further stated that the market has been neglected by the Freetown City Council FCC, the institution that is supposed to be managing and maintaining it status because the council do collect dues from traders on a daily basis.
Madam Kamara said for the past ten years, FCC has been promising to construct the market, but to no avail. She alluded the market to an ‘abandoned child’ as it lacks all facilities including pipe borne water, canopy, tables to display goods and stores to keep their wares. she continue by saying that all the slabs at the market have been broken, hence the goods are place on the bare floor which is not hygienic and create a panic on them.
She recalled that during political campaign, politicians made all sorts of promises that they would refurbish the facilities, but to no avail.
‘’The market is not hygienic at all, and nobody would like to buy foodstuff from a filthy environment. We are paying tax to Freetown City Council every day, and even those coming with the foodstuff from Kafu Bullom, Lungi in the Port Loko District, are paying taxes to the council,” she said.
She stated that King Jimmy market is significant because it is one of the historic edifices in the country, and the market used to be the final departure point for freed slaves, thus calling on the authorities to maintain the history of the country.
Memunatu Sesay is a petty trader who does her business at Congo Market In Freetown. She told Concord Times that she usually buys local products at King Jimmy Market at cheaper rate and retail them to her customers but noted that the inter-district lockdown and the condition of the market has seriously disturbed her business.
‘’This is the worst time for King Jimmy market as both the market environment and things are not encouraging at all. Everything is very expensive to afford. We are pleading to the government to look into the movement of goods from the provinces,’’ she noted.
King Jimmy market is knowing to be a helpful market by customers as it sale at a lower cost which encourage people most especially traders and customer is a significant historical edifice in the country as it used to be the last place of departure for freed slaves and has a foundation stone to that effect
Abubakarr Sesay, Harbor master at King Jimmy Seaport, said the harbor is not only known to be the cheapest point of sales, but also represents one of the historical monuments that Sierra Leone can use to tell her history about the Slave Trade.
He said as the oldest harbor market still in use for the exchange of goods and services, King Jimmy shouldn’t be neglected.
He also noted that, he was disappointed at FCC, noting that the lack of better marketplace leads to unsafe business, and that whenever it rains, both buyers and sellers suffer the most and not to talk of pandemic of such while foodstuffs are spread on the bare floor while others do perish.
‘’My team lacks communication tools and support to respond or communicate with the right authorities including FCC, the Sierra Leone Navy, the Sierra Leone Maritime and others in case of accident or disasters, or even pandemic” he said.
Marima kamara, a frequenter at the market said sanitation at the market should be of paramount concern to traders and customers, thus authorities should take notice.
Kamara, who looks dejected and frustrated, pointed out that traders do not have to wait on government to clean the market, adding that in as much as there are not enough tables to display their goods, that shouldn’t warrant them to display foodstuff on the floor.
“If King Jimmy market traders continue selling their goods in this manner there is a possibility for them to lose customers as most people have already do due to the pandemic. Although it is the responsibility of the local government to take care of this market, but the traders should not solely depend on government at all the times for everything,” she said.
This story was produced with support from Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), through it’s Mobilizing Media in the Fight Against COVID-19 in partnership with Sierra Leone Association of Journalists.