Liberia: Celebrating Pro-Poor X-mas, with ‘No Money’

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MONROVIA – At the moment, the Mechlin and Ashmum Streets hill that leads to Waterside market is overcrowded with more sellers than buyers for the festive seasons. The entire street can be blocked for the most part of the day by the sellers, who have their goods in their hands and some spread on the main tarmac. In the midst of this no-vehicle traffic zone, our reporter bumped into Odell Broderick, an auction goods seller, walking in the very scourging sun and sweating as she yelled out at passersby to look her way and purchase some of the goods she had in her hands and on her head. She was selling colorful, children’s Christmas glasses as she descended the hill toward Waterside.

Report by Mae Azango, [email protected]

“President George Oppong Weah needs to stand on his feet like a man and fight to improve things for the youth of this nation, because we are really suffering. We the auction girls are suffering: the US rate is up and we are not seeing anybody buying. The ‘looking town people’ will just play in your market all day without buying a single thing. The only thing we can hear from our big government people is the pro-poor agenda song and that says the country does not have money. The pro-poor rice Oppong said he brought for the poor people is now being sold for US$15 when it supposed to be US$10. So how we will eat when market is not running? How will we buy goods to survive?” Ms. Broderick. 

She and few of her friends volunteered to express their disappointment over the hardship they are undergoing.

“[President] George Weah, we the auction girls who were all between the cars under the rain and sun running your campaign while our slippers were cutting, just so you can sit in the chair but since you enter the seat, we cannot see anything improving for us, especially those of us who have plenty children. Business is very bad. The US exchange rate is high, so prices of good are going up. Sometimes we will sell all day and nobody can buy; we are going through so much pains. We are hearing that civil servants have not yet taken pay. President Weah please pay civil servants so they can buy from us,” said Princess Kekula, another auction girl.

According to Ms. Kekula, she enjoyed 2017 season. “I have four children; feeding them is now a serious problem for me. A bag of rice price has gone up. We can’t see the pro-poor rice anywhere again. When you find it, it is now being sold for US$15. School fees have also gone up and the market is hard because nobody is buying. People are not buying.” 

Janet Mulbah could not wait for Princess to end her statement when she interrupted and added: “The market is very hard.

“The way things used to be during Ma Ellen [former President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson] days, it is not like that in this new government. Things are hard. During Ma Ellen time, civil servants were taking pay and people were buying from us during season time. Market was everywhere, but since this government came in power, things are difficult for us. We voted for Oppong because we trusted and believed that he could make things easy for us young people. We really want him to help us reduce prices. We are not supposed to be selling on the streets, but its hard time that is making us to sell so let him reduce the prices so we can improve our lives,” Ms. Mulbah further said.

“We love Oppong as our father. Let him reduce prices and pay the government workers so people can buy our goods. When money is in the country, the hardship will not be too much, but for now, we were feeling the hard time. I live all the way in New Georgia. I pay L$80 to come sell and L$80 to go back home. When the customers do not buy, I will start walking back home in the afternoon until I reach home in the night. Commercial drivers will not even listen to you when you try begging to reduce the transportation,” she said.

Madelyn Dahn joined her friend Princess Kekula to express how she also enjoyed last year’s Christmas. 

“At the end of the day, we used to carry ‘small thing’ home for our children to eat, but this year’s Christmas is zero. The US rate is climbing high every day. This market is what I can sell to help my husband but when they are not buying, we cannot do anything for our family. Since Saturday, this bed sheet has been on my head and nobody has bought,” she said.

“I have been voting for Weah since 2005; so he has to do something for us because People in our community are now laughing at us who voted for Weah because of the hardship. We toting heavy bundle on our heads and our children are not in school because of the high school fees. So I am appealing to Papa Weah to bring the US rate down so things prices can come down. I only hear about the pro-poor rice but I have never seen it with my eyes.

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