Liberia: Monrovia City Government Demolishes Stalls Close to the Road Down Waterside Market

Monrovia — Marketers have decried the demolishing their market tables and stalls at the Waterside Market and other markets in Central Monrovia by the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC).

"The government is not feeding us. How will the government come overnight and break our tables? Unlike the Ebola Virus that killed us, it is our government that is going to kill us this time around. How are we going to feed our family during this coronavirus period?" Marie Jallah, a marketer at the Waterside Market lamented.

But the MCC says its action was in an effort to enforce health regulations amid the national health emergency declared by the Ministry of Health to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus in Liberia.

Ministry of Health on March 22, 2020, in an emergency press briefing called on state security officers to enforce the ban on street selling as one of the several measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

"The demolition of market tables we carried out was in line with the new health regulations in an effort to curb the spread of Coronavirus in the country. Besides, those structures were very close to the road making movement very difficult and forcing congestion. We cannot continue to have it like that, something needed to be done. We told them, we warned them before moving in," Pekele Gbuapaye, Media Relations Officer, Monrovia City Corporation told FrontPageAfrica.

Enforcement on the ban of streets selling started on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Officers of the Monrovia City Corporation began chasing hawkers off the streets and in some instances, seized their goods.

This also prompted a counter-reaction from street vendors, some of whom attacked the city police officers.

According to reports, an officer of the Monrovia city Police died as the result of alleged beating by vendors at the Waterside Market after he tried to implement the ban on street selling by demolishing stalls.

On Sunday, March 29, 2020 the stalls at the Waterside Market were all demolished by officers of the Monrovia City Police.

Speaking to FrontPageAfrica after the demolition, marketers claimed that the action of the Monrovia City Corporation was in retaliation of the beating that led to the death of one City Police officer and not to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Peter Kollie is one of the marketers who sells at the Waterside Market. He says the action of the City Police was untimely, adding that many people are finding it difficult to find food for their families amidst the global pandemic.

"I do not know why the City Mayor will send his men to take food from the already suffering masses' mouths. We are fully aware of the death of one officer of MCC. But it should not be because of few persons, you will suffer everybody," Kollie said.

A tour taken by FPA observed that after the demolition exercise, cars began to use the Mechlin Street route leading toward the King Zolu Doma Bridge. It has been a long time since cars were able to freely ply that route.

The Mechlin Street side is one of the most clustered parts of the Waterside Market. Marketers in large numbers conduct their regular business activities in what is said to be against the social distancing mandate pronounced by health authority.

James Dickson, a resident of Central Monrovia told FPA that the demolishing of marketers' stalls was necessary, especially at the time the entire world is calling for the action on social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

"Our people need to understand that their health comes first. The action of MCC is good. Let the people understand that the virus spreads in crowded places. The church, schools and other places are closed," Dickson said.

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