13 June 2018

Gambia: KMC Blamed for Market Scuffle

Members of the Serrekunda market committee, point fingers of blame at the KMC Revenue and Service Enforcement Officers (RSEO), for the tension that brought about the scuffle between vendors and Police reinforcement sent to diffuse the tension. As readers can recall, scuffles broke out between vendors and a reinforcement of Police Intervention personnel on 5th June 2018, when they (vendors) were disallowed to carry out their yearly Koriteh sales, in the streets. According to the president of the Serekunda Market Committee Sainey S. Faye, officials of the KMC RSEOs went to the market at around 2 am, to demarcate the place where the yearly promotional sale otherwise known as Wanteer, was to be conducted following an initial disagreement between them and the vendors; that market managers, duty collectors and the KMC Financial Director, were all present during this demarcation exercise. "This is what brought about the whole problem. We told the KMC officers to let us continue with our agreement with the former management for the promotional sale to be relocated so that it will not affect sales inside the market," he said; that this was why there was no sale during last year's Tobaski feast. He further explained that they have been engaging the former management of KMC and had even reached a deal with them; that they had a prior meeting with the market manager Dodou Gomez, who promised to share their concerns with the KMC management.

Faye continued that instead of discussing with KMC officials at the Council premises, Mr. Kanyi, the RSEO from the KMC convened an emergency meeting at the office of the market manager at the Serekunda Market and imposed the annual promotional sale for the 'Koriteh' feast on them; that by doing so, Kanyi disrespected their ideas and clearly stated at the meeting, that the management of the KMC had agreed for the sales to take place; that this was why when the KMC officials started giving out the demarcated places the following morning, vendors inside the market also came out to block the move; that as the push and pull escalated, a reinforcement of PIU Officers was sent in when officers from Serekunda Police Station could not handle the matter; that this worsened the situation which eventually turned to the violent destruction of tables and other items, when the reinforcement arrived.

Dodou Gomez, Manager of Serekunda Market said KMC's working relationship with the market committees has always been cordial and apologized that the disorderly behaviour of vendors was regrettable. He revealed that KMC organises annual promotional sales during every feast, to allow people to buy goods at reasonable prices; that this time when they met with the committee, they raised concern that the sale is not beneficial for them because it reduces the sales of those inside the market; that they respected the views of the committee and forwarded their concerns to the management of the KMC. Gomez confirmed that the RSEOs of the KMC authorized the annual sale or 'wanteer' to take place, because he is in charge of revenue affairs at Council; that he has organized such meetings with the market committee and has given them the opportunity to share their views that was forwarded to the management of the KMC.

When contacted to shed light on the issue, the Public Relations Officer Superintendent David Kujabi refuted the allegations that the Police used force to disperse the crowd. He however acknowledged that the situation was getting out of hand and the police were there to ensure that peace prevailed. He said the Police conducted themselves in the manner that they should, which brought the situation under control. Efforts to speak to the newly elected Mayor for the KMC on the organisation of the annual promotional sale by Council and the results it yielded between vendors and the police, proved futile.

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