By Makutu Manneh
Flower vase sellers and gardeners along the Bertil Harding Highway fear losing their only source of income to the OIC Road project as the destruction of properties has started from the Airport Junction to the roundabout at Brusibi.
More than 40 people (old and young) make their ends meet and take care of their families from the selling of the flower vases.
These people make flower vases from cement, sand and water and then use paint to make the vases colourful. They buy some of the flowers outside and plant others for themselves.
The flower sellers and gardeners confirmed that they were given a notice to move 40 metres away from the road last year. But they feared that there was no space for them to move to, saying there are compounds behind their current place.
The National Road Authority (NRA) is claiming 40 metres on either side of the Bertil Harding Highway to widen it into a dual carriage in preparation for the OIC Heads of State and Government Summit 2022.
“We are going to be jobless. There is no space to move back to,” Abdoulie Jallow, one of the garden owners, said.
Already, Jallow said there is limited space between them and the compounds behind. Thus, they do not know where to move to.
Jallow lamented that he makes little money from the job and he has no other choice but to stick to the little he makes from it. He complained that the government is asking the youth to work, but the little work some of them are trying to do is on the verge of being destroyed.
“I have been working here for 15 years and I earn a little but I thank God as I am providing for my family,” he said. “We all cannot work in the office but those struggling should be empowered and encouraged.”
Young Jallow is calling on the government to provide a specific place where they can relocate to.
Abdoulie Faal, one of the oldest flower vase sellers and gardener in that area, said for their gardens to be destroyed without them being considered will be painful.
Faal explained that the two former presidents (Sir Dawda Kairaba Juwara and Yahya Jammeh) have bought a flower vase and flowers at their gardens along the traffic light, Fajara.
Another flower vase seller cum gardener, Abdou Aziz Diko, said sometimes it would take a week without making any money from his flower gardening. But he keeps striving as it is all he gets.
“The only thing we are aware of for now, is that we are going to lose our gardens because the notice sent to us is only to inform us to move behind where there is no space,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jallow, Faal and Diko all said despite the little income they get from their job, they pay each D1000 to the Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC) annually.