January 20, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai
Concerned citizens and stakeholders within constituency 102 have raised concern over the manner at which people have constructed permanent dwelling houses at the Ferry Junction Trading Centre, popularly known as ‘Peace Market’.
It could be recalled that late President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah of the then Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) led government, provided Peace market for the Petty Traders Union as a suitable location for street traders.
The Peace market is a hub for those that import containers, perishable goods from the provinces, petty trading and also a park for Guinean vehicles.
A stakeholder of Kissy, Yusuf Bangura, told Concord Times that the market has been occupied by private individuals who have constructed permanent dwelling houses and that the situation has forced petty traders to return to the street, where they always display their goods.
“Members of the Petty Traders Union have sold all the land to people who have no business to do there. They have now constructed permanent structures. Traders no longer have stores for their goods. It’s a pity because the place was provided by the then SLPP-led government to traders in order to get rid-off street trading, but it has been transformed into something else,” he claimed.
Member of Parliament representing Constituency 102 where ‘Peace market’ is situated, Hon. Alie Kalokoh,told Concord Times that he had received several complaints from concerned citizens, stakeholders and even petty traders that the market has been transformed into permanent dwelling place.
He added that there was a claim that the Petty Traders Union has sold all the land to individuals who have constructed permanent dwelling houses, thereby abandoning the purpose for which the market was set up.
“I have approached the union members on many occasions in order to find a solution to the problem but on those occasions, they have put up resistance. Because of their resistance, our relationship has become sour. We have quarreled over this problem since I was elected MP of this constituency,” he said.
However, Alex A. Conteh, National Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the United Indigenous Commercial and Petty Traders Union, denied the claim, stating that people started sleeping in their individual shops and stores at the market because of the persistent theft of their goods.
He recalled that when the SLPP-led government wanted to get rid of street trading, the Petty Traders Union made an appeal to late President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah to provide that place for the union and its members.
“We are currently constructing a very big trading centre in this place. That construction exercise was approved by the former SLPP-led government after the war but we are yet to complete it because of the lack of funds,” he said.
He said all perishable vegetables and fruits from the provinces were being offloaded at the ‘Peace market’ before any further distribution to other market places and that even those imported goods were always offloaded at the market.
“All those making negative allegations against us do not understand how the ‘Peace market’ operates. If you see anyone making additional structures on his/her shop is because of security. Criminals used to break into their shops and cart away goods and money. Also, a man might want to draw his wife and children closer to his place of business,” he said.
He recalled that they had held several meetings with the owners of the shops at the marketplace in which they urged them to provide security at night for their goods, noting that they (the Union and the Sierra Leone Police) were the ones that gave the approval for people to sleep at their shops and stores for security reason.