Pressure Mounts On Street Sellers at Red Light Market Amid COVID-19


Monrovia– When the government through the Ministry of Public works on Sunday, July 10, 2021, demolished market stalls at Red Light and ordered street sellers to move to Omega market in Paynesville, police officers were assigned to make sure that these sellers do not come back to sell.

Many of the vendors, quickly left the area, but some remain defiant to the mandate, challenging police authority by bringing their goods to sell on the main road where they have been evacuated.

Most of the defiant ones felt that they were being displaced at the wrong time when COVID-was ravaging and economic activities were very low. They argued that settling in a different terrain at such a difficult time would have affected them further.

But the police on the other hand has not been merciful to them confiscating or damaging their goods when they [police] get hold of them. The sellers are still resisting the order on grounds that business is slow at Omega, the new site.

This has perhaps resulted in police sending them to the Monrovia Central Prison at South Beach. According to a local resident, Janet Fayiah, when the officers grab a seller, he or she will be taken to the Paynesville City Court. “They will ask you to get a lawyer who will stand your bond.  If not, you will be sent to South Beach Prison. When you get a lawyer then you go to court the next day.” 

“Can the Government sue an individual? She asked.  “Nowhere around the world, you hear of a government carrying one person to court.” She added.

“COVID-19 is already making life difficult for us then our government is compounding the situation,” Ellen Harris said, “How can we go Omega when the place is so far away and we barely make profits that would enable us to transport ourselves there? Do they expect us to walk there when we don’t even have money to pay our way there?” Ellen asked rhetorically.

Like Ellen, Jamesetta Wolo said she is practically out of business due to the coronavirus impact. “I’m not making a profit and all my money has finished on food and family up,” she said shaking a few ladies’ clothes in her hands. “Are these I should take to Omega to sell? I don’t think so and our government must understand,” she said.

The police remain vigilant in ridding Red-Light of sellers and have vowed to ensure that that happens.

Spokesperson, H. Moses Carter had earlier disclosed that the police were putting measures in place to ensure that the sellers finally leave the area. “The police will take action against people who will just refuse to leave the Red Light when they are not supposed to be there and that is exactly what we are doing,” Carter said.

He described the sellers as violators who are opposing the government’s mandate and as such, the police will exert all efforts to discourage the sellers from Red Light.

“The police are taking strenuous action against people who will just refuse to leave the Red Light when they are not supposed to be there and that is exactly what we are doing. You can rest assured that action is underway to ensure that they are removed from there,” Carter said.

He complained that when the police remove the sellers, they still return the next day to sell. “As the saying goes, the child that says their mother will not sleep, they will not sleep. That’s what we are on,” he added. When the government relocated street sellers and other marketeers from Red Light to the Omega Market, many considered it a major achievement for the Weah administration.

It was evident that the presence of marketers in the area had grown out of control, with overwhelming traffic congestion, mountains of garbage, and rampant criminal activities that polluted the environment and obstructed the road construction that is currently ongoing from Parker Paint to ELWA junction. Yet, despite the mandate to make a way for the ongoing road construction, engineers are finding it difficult to continue their work because their daily routine now begins with clearing garbage out of the newly-built drainages that street sellers and pedestrians are constantly dumping in there.

This story was produced with support from Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), through the Mobilizing Media in the Fight Against COVID-19 in partnership with FrontPage Africa