Market women refuse to vacate and take up issues with KMC
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Women vendors have refused to vacate a car park at Serrekunda Market, as negotiations intensify to find an amicably solution to the stalemate.
This protracting scuffle sprung up after Mohammed Sillah, the owner of a car park (which was used by market women to sell vegetables and other foodstuffs) demanded for the women to leave the area, claiming that he wants to use the area for commercial purposes.
The order prompted the women to organise themselves into a group, insisting that they should be allocated a different site within the locality of the market to continue their trade uninterruptedly.
The women called on Yankuba Colley, the mayor of KMC and his management at a meeting held at the KMC Chambers on Wednesday, where they clearly spelt out their position.
Speaking at the meeting, Fatou Janneh, one of the affected women, said she has been in business for 20 years now. She said they thought that the embattled area belongs to KMC, adding that the market is their source of livelihood and the profits gained are what they use to pay school bills for their children, as well as settle family problems.
She stressed that they are not "moving an inch" from the market, until and unless a better place is given to them.
Yandeh Njie, also a business woman, called on the council to assist them, noting that they have no other place other than the market.
Ms Njie expressed concerns about foreign occupants of some canteens in the market. According to her, some of these people do not pay tax to KMC, and instead, they pay to individuals who erected the canteens in the market.
Meta Cham and Rohey Chatty, both business women, expressed similar sentiments.
In response to the women, Mayor Colley recalled that Mohammed Sillah came to his office with some documents, claiming that he owns the former car park.
"I called the Market Select Committee to a meeting and sent them to meet you people for a dialogue. This meeting was held last Wednesday and I received a call from Kemo Conteh, the director of Governance at the Department of State for Local Government, Lands and Religious Affairs, who informed me about the same issue. He came to my office on Friday and we visited the market area," he explained.
Mayor Colley clarified that he has not sent anyone to move the women out. However, he said the council has written a letter to the Department of State for Local Government, Lands and Religions Affairs (dated 1st February), informing it about this issue. He said the letter also suggested for collaboration with the department to either purchase the former car park from Mohammeh Sillah and allow the women to continue their business or give him (Mohammed Sillah) another plot at a location, where he can run his own business.
However, Mayor Colley said they are yet to get any reply from the state department, urging the women to always orderly lodge their grievances to the council, instead of going to other places. He assured the women that the council, DOSLGRA and the KMC Market Committee will look into the issue.
For his part, Abdoulie MB Sanyang, the chief executive officer (CEO) of KMC, said the former car park belongs to the late Alhagie Abdoulie A. Njie, according to the documents produced by Mohammeh Sillah. CEO Sanyang explained that the children of the deceased sold the area to Mohammed Sillah.
He confirmed that he had written to the state department to negotiate the issue, but they are yet to reply. The meeting was attended by the KMC Market Committee, the director of Planning and Development, amongst others.
Author: by Assan Sallah