Paynesville – Until the Government of Liberia stormed the market with bulldozers for demolition, Red Light Market was a destination for many shoppers in and beyond the shores of Paynesville City.
But when FrontPageAfrica visited the market on Monday, July 12, 2021, it observed that it is no longer business as usual for traders.
Serious demolition was ongoing, and some traders who used to sit comfortably in their shops were left with no choice but to loiter the roadside, while some were in rush to secure new spots at the newly constructed 14 Gobachop Market, where marketers have been relocated.
Though the new market complex has over three thousand selling spaces, offices, bathrooms, warehouses, car parks and electricity, it might not accommodate marketers who have been relocated from both the Old Gobachop Market and Red Light Market, FrontPageAfrica has observed.
In order to address the chronic traffic chaos and other allied challenges occasioned by the Red Light Market location, President George Weah at the dedication of the market last year pleaded with marketers to make use of the newly constructed 14 Gobachop Market complex.
The need to relocate the market, according to President Weah, was informed by the need to promote the interest of marketers, especially in the area of safety and vehicular and human movement.
Red Light Market would be transformed to Multi-Calo, while Gobachop Market would be transformed to a modern wood factory, according to President Weah.
But marketers appeared to have ignored the relocation mandate for two years, despite awareness being provided by the government through the Ministries of Public Works and Internal Affairs.
During Monday’s demolition exercise, marketers experienced difficulty in relocating from Red Light Market to the Omega community, where the 14 Gobachop Market is located, due to tense traffic congestion that lasted for nearly three hours.
Police officers struggled to regulate the traffic as their focus was concentrated on enforcing the relocation mandate by the government, an officer who requested anonymity told FrontPageAfrica.
As many marketers trooped to the 14 Gobachop Market in search of new spots, FrontPageAfrica observed that Covid-19 regulations were ignored as many were seen without nose masks, while others didn’t wear their nose masks properly.
Marketers laud the government, but most of the marketers who spoke to FrontPageAfrica lauded the idea of relocation but complained that the site is not spacious enough to accommodate marketers from both the Old Gobachop Market and Red Light.
Marketer John Nabie told FrontPageAfrica about constraints he has faced since he was relocated. “I don’t have a spot since I relocated. The market can’t accommodate us, and everywhere he go in the Omega community where the market is located we are told there is no land. Some of my colleagues are now going into the swampland closer to the market to get a space. I don’t know how things will be when the rain comes.”
More so, marketers are also raising security concerns due to what they say is the distance of the market from the main road.
“I foresee danger because the market only has one entrance. What if something terrible happens?’
Some marketers heaped praises on the government for the relocation, saying the move would help to curb the deliberate paddling of garbage on the street.
Sarah Armah, a used clothes seller said: “We are happy that President Weah has built this market, though it is not too big, but others will find their way around here. I believe when we come here, the garbage collection system will be in place. Anybody who just throws dirt on the street will be complained to authority.”
Her statement was in reference to information that one of the reasons leading to their removal was due to constant paddling of garbage along the streets.
When asked about why they took a long time to relocate from Redlight and its environs, one of the marketers, James Gbarpou, said ‘it was due to their own negligence.
However, on Monday, June 12, the Ministry of Public Works congratulated marketers who they said, have accepted development by moving to the designated Gobachop Market and Omega areas as they advance the ELWA junction to Coca-Cola four-lane road project.
This movement, according to the Public Works Ministry, has been long awaited but expressed excitement that the leadership of the Red Light Market has agreed to assist the government in moving forward with the plan.
“We saw a jubilant group of people finding various spots in the designated areas to commence selling their businesses beginning Monday,” the Public Works Ministry Communication said.
“This for us, is a remarkable achievement; utilizing negotiation to advance development for all and make Redlight passable. The work begins now and we will keep you updated of the progress.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Works has commended President Weah who has accordingly being involved in making the relocation possible.