22 February 2013

Gambia: Albert Market Vendors Complain of Closure During Independence Celebrations

Reliable information received from Banjul indicates that the city's main market, The Albert Market, was closed down on the day of the 48th independent celebrations, which took place at the July 22nd Square in Banjul.

Visiting the Market on Wednesday 19th February 2013, vendors at the said market confirmed the story. According to them they were asked to close down their shops on the day of the independence.

Asked what reason was advanced to them to do so, they said they were told it was for security reasons.

A young man selling stationeries said: "We just received information that no shop should open on the day of the independence which according to them is due to the security reason because lots of foreign dignitaries including heads of states would be coming". Another young man also told me: "Some people passed the information to us that they don't want to see any shop open on the day of the independence. He added that from the entrance of the Albert market towards the port none of them opened their shops.

He opined that if there is a security threat in holding activities at the Square because of its proximity to the market they should have gone to the Independence Stadium in Bakau which is not close to any market. He finally expressed opinion that what the authorities failed to understand is that days like this are when they the vendors could make sales because some people must buy things before they leave.

A middle age woman said, "to be candid, we are not pleased with this move at all." She said she has never experienced this kind of a thing in Banjul but added that they cannot do anything other than to comply with the order. She added that to close down their shops for the whole day is definitely not encouraging at all. "If the security reason we heard is the reason because of it's proximity to the venue, then they should have conducted the celebrations at the independent stadium rather than to tell us to close down the shops", she concluded.

The public relation officer of the Banjul City Council, Mr. Dawda Jones said the council is not behind the order and that they didn't give any directive to close the Albert Market on that particular day which coincided with the 48th independence anniversary of the Gambia. He further said that they too had to comply when they were informed by the security that the market was to be closed from 6pm on Sunday up to Tuesday morning due to the security reasons.

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