Liberia: Marketers Dissatisfied With ‘Partial’ Dispersing of Hawkers in Redlight

The clustered Redlight Market in Paynesville

Paynesville – Officer of the Liberia National Police have launched a vigirous operation to remove streets peddlers from the commercial district of Redlight Market in Paynesville.

The move is aimed at decongesting the area amid warnings about the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic in the country.

But some marketers say the police operation is being done “partially”, accusing the officers of being lenent with certain group of markerters but harsh against others.

The disenchated marketers said although they were not alerted prior to the start of the campaing, it would be good for the operation to affect all street peddlers, instead of the LNP being selective.

Some of the marketers who spoke with FrontPageAfrica in separate interviews over the weekend said the police are only chasing street peddlers from one side of the main street, while those along the Miller R. Hage Complex remain untouchable.

“The police are beating us to leave the street and go to Omega Market, but they refused to remove the others right across the road,” alleged Pias Duapoe, a street seller.  

“You can see for yourself, those people are all standing and having the market tables up to Hage store, because they are giving money to the Police Commander Elijah Baysah,”

Since late March, the LNP began chasing street sellers from the streets of Redlight and the Waterside Markets, which is down town Monrovia, in a move gear towrd enforcing the governmnet’s social distencing measure – a globally acceptable method of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Elijah Baysah, the Commander of Container-site Depot in Redlight Market and the Commander of Zone Nine Depot in Jacob Town, Patrick Kormazue were seen leading  a team of police officers to remove the street sellers.

Meanwhile,  street sellers along the Hage Complex in Red Light Market were seen carrying out their normal businesses, as the police chased away other street hawkers. 

“If the police wants street peddlers to leave Redlight, it should be all street peddlers, but you can’t have one group still selling, while others are being chased. The police is operating partially,” argued Stanford Wlahyou, another marketer.

Added Musline Slanning, another marketer: “Once the others are still selling along the Hage store side of the main road, we will continue to come back and sell our goods and they will keep running behind us. I don’t think the police is serious about removing sellers from the road, when other along Hage Store are the untouchables.”

“The police are beating us to leave the street and go to Omega Market, but they refused to remove the others right across the road,” alleged Pias Duapoe”

– A Marketer

“We are not saying we do not want to go to Omega as we are hearing, but what is not done right is not done at all, because we did not give the commander money, so he’s beating us but those who give him money, he is not removing them.”

When contacted via mobile phone, Patrick Kormazue, Zone Nine Depot Commander termed the allegation by the marketers as “false misleading” and only intended to undermine the “hard effort by officers who applying tireless efforts to implement national mandate”.

Kormazue said the police “is not interested in certain group of people” while carrying out the exercise, but added that the problem with removing everyone at once is created by the limited manpower.

He added that the police is working in collaboration with the Liberia Marketing Association and the Paynesville City Corrporation to ensure street sellers are removed from the streets as a way of decongesting the area.

“It is not possible, that the regulation touch one side and leave the other. No one is untouchable in the process, we are removing street peddlers from along the main route and we cannot remove everone at the same time. Anyone who told you that we have interest in one group of people is not saying the true,” Kormazue said.

“At the beginning of the exercise, we remove street peddlers from that area you are talking about, but each time we do that and move to the other side, the marketers will come back to sell and all this due to the lack of  manpower. If we have the number of officers that can do that, you will not see what you are talking about, but we are doing everything possible to ensure that the stree is clear.”

FPA was unable to get Commander Baysah for response after making several calls to him at the week end.

Meanwhile, Police Spokesman Moses Cater tld FPA that the operation will not spare any seller along the road.  

“This operation is meant for street peddlers and no one street peddler is untouchable in the process,” Carter said.

“As for the allegation that the officers received money from other street peddlers to remain untouchable, it might be untrue, but I will call in Redlight and inform them about this concern.”