By C. Winnie Saywah-Jimmy
Reports gathered by this paper say the Ma-Juah General Market located in Vai Town is to shortly be relocated in a building opposite the Georgia Pattern United Methodist Church on the UN Drive but marketers are disappointed over the process as well as the environment designated for the relocation.
Already, there are about 500 to 600 marketers occupying the vicinity given them temporarily in the Vai Town area but the old LIBTRACOL Building being processed for them according to sources can house only between 200- 250 marketers with poor drainage systems.
Besides the drainage being small, during heavy downpour of rain, people have to wear boots to enter that vicinity; it is also no secret that during continuous rain fall, the river overflows and runs through pipes that are connected to the building thereby causing serious havoc.
The market supervisor told this paper yesterday that they are not against development even though relocation process carries its own pains, losses and benefits but if the process must be welcomed by the beneficiaries, somewhere better should already be set aside because relocation has its own impact on business people.
Mr. Bad Sumo Wonkulah said the gathering of marketers in the Vai Town vicinity is a long story which began initially on an Easter Sunday in 2006 when their market tables were broken down by the police under the directive of Madam MunahSieh-Brown in Waterside.
He said the current space used as Ma-Juah Market now was a space used by truckers and also a parking lot for vehicles transporting people to Maryland and Sinoe Counties and upon negotiations made by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, she told them that that venue would be used as a temporary market site.
The market supervisor said being cognizant of the decision to allow them use that space, it was difficult for the market administrators to carry out any major improvements. He said understanding that there should be relocation any time, up till present, the relocation deal has not been certain.
Mr. Wonkulah said since 2006, it was on August 19, 2014 that he received a call to appear at the Executive Mansion for a meeting with the President and that meeting was attended by the Minister of Gender and Development and the Liberia Marketing Association President and in that meeting, President Sirleaf informed him that it was about time that the marketers leave that vicinity since there was an outbreak of the Ebola virus in the country with Monrovia being an epicenter.
“I appealed with her so that the Ebola outbreak could subside before finalizing her decision taking into consideration that the majority of the marketers have taken loans from the Access Bank and every loan has a timeframe attached for its payment; I pleaded with her not to make the pronouncement so that it does not frustrate us more,” he said.
He said more to that, this is not the first time that they had negotiated for the relocation of that market to a designated community adding that over 1 million dollars was spent and that the Director of Project is aware but that plan was squashed due to the numerous problems encountered and the containers of materials to be used for the construction were looted while the containers are still in their same positions at the site.
Mr. Wonkulah said since August 20, when the Ebola scare increased and West Point had to be quarantined, all plans were thwarted as far as the market managers were concerned only to receive a call on October 21, again from an official of government that the job for the relocation had begun and it had gone some two to three weeks already.
He said the news was not welcomed because that was without their knowledge and the planning process was initiated by people who were not direct beneficiaries while the engineers had left the old structure in place and were just working on what they saw apparently not knowing the condition of the environment.
“I then wrote the President appreciating her efforts and informed her that the place was not big enough and that we needed additional floors. I also informed her that the engineers had said they were not mandated to build additional floors but again the Director of Project informed me that the President could do nothing about the request,” he explained further.
He said it was not until last Monday that an inspection tour was made at the site and we were made to believe that the President was misled because the venue is indeed small. He said they were also told that they would not be allowed to relocate in such a dilapidated building that might collapse anytime.
Meanwhile, it is believed that further negotiations are ongoing with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf into the matter as Mr. Wonkulah has said the relocation may go on but the relocation site still remains uncertain.