As Nationwide Road Clearing Exercise Continues
By Nelson Manneh
Stall owners along the Serrekunda-Tippa Garage highway, on Tuesday 24 October lamented their frustration as the government continues to demolish illegal structures and attachments along the country’s main highways, particularly within the Greater Banjul Area. The victims of the demolition, most of whom, said they were caught off-guard, said they were dumbfounded at seeing their structures being razed to the ground. Many lamented that they have no place inside the already congested market to sell their products which is why they established structures along the highway to sell their goods. The vendors said they are now willing to pack up their goods and dismantle their stalls since they are not left with any other choice.
Mariama Dampha, a vendor who established a stall beside the highway at Serrekunda, said she has been selling there for the past five years and has been paying both tax and ‘duty’ to the Gambia Revenue Authority and the Kanifing Municipal Council.
“I do not think this is a fair and just treatment of us. This is the only source of income I have, and if I am forcefully evicted from here, where will I go to sell my goods? The authorities should have expanded the market first before implementing this exercise,” he said.
MsDampha said the exercise is not bad, but condemned the manner in which it is being implemented.
“The authorities should cater for all of us because we are taxpayers and we need to enjoy all lawful privileges. We may have unlawfully established our stalls, but that does not mean the structures should be forcefully demolished without the creation of another place for us to go to,” she noted.
Lamin Fadera, a petty trader, said the market is full to capacity and cannot accommodate all those who are in business, making most of them establish a temporal stall beside the highway.
“I am not against the exercise, but my fear is we do not have anywhere to relocate. I have four children and they are all going to School thanks to this business as the only source of income that has put them in School,” he said.
Many vendors, whose attachments and stalls were razed to the ground, could be seen staring at the security officers as they conducted their exercise.
However, an anonymous police officer who was part of the team, said the exercise is good because it will ease the passage of vehicles and pedestrians.
“My fear is its sustainability, because I know after a few months, you will see vendors establishing the same structures here again. The authorities should come up with measures that will stop people from establishing unlawful structures along the road,” he said.