A modern market building constructed under the African Development Bank (AfDB) funded Mano River Union Road Transport Programme has become a ghost town in Maryland County.
The structure that contains a hand pump, office space, and toilets, amongst others, was constructed by the Ministry of Public Works at an estimated cost of US$158, 669.17.
The project was implemented by the Ministry of Public Works on behalf of the Government of Liberia to promote cross-border trade between Liberia and the neighboring Ivory Coast.
The USD$158,669.17 Dollars project upon completion was turned over to Maryland County local authorities by the contractor.
The project turning over ceremony was graced by high-level officials, including Deputy Public Works Minister for Construction, World Bank representatives, Maryland County Superintendent George A. Prowd, local authorities of the Liberia Marketing Association and representatives of the Ivorian government, among others.
Speaking at the occasion, Superintendent Prowd disclosed the consultations held with the Ivorian government were based on hope of getting Ivorians to engage in cross-border trade with Liberia.
He narrates that on three separate occasions, he has led delegations to Ivory Coast to discuss with authorities in Tabou how they could rotate market weekly days on both sides of the border and to improve other cross border activities but the efforts yielded no fruit.
"They are not willing because of the money they generate from their side every week, and our people too only produce cane juice", the superintendent added.
The modern market project was completed and dedicated on May 30, and officially opened to traders from both countries on July 24, 2019.
But since its dedication, the facility has been abandoned, drawing the attention of the market superintendent in the county Alphonso Wallace, who said, he has on several occasions engaged marketers to make use of the market building to boost the local economy but to no avail.
"We have talked to them over and over and again to use this market my brother, but they are not still listening to us. I don't know why and what should we do now, and the money they used to build the market is so plenty that sometimes I'm worried and think if they were going to build this market another place, it was would have been better." Alphonso said.
He said rather than using the facility, marketers from Liberia often rush to Ivory Coast to trade, adding "They take fish, liquor and other products to Ivory Coast every Thursday to sell instead of selling in our market here to allow the money remain here."
Superintendent Wallace also revealed that several Ivorian petty traders and other business people he has interacted with had agreed to sell in the market building but Liberians should take the lead.
The local LMA superintendent in the county, Abraham C. Wilson said the abandonment of the structure is also due to the lack of willingness by his Ivorian counterpart to rotate market days on both sides of the border, and the inability of those residing in the surrounding communities to grow the necessary products to attract buyers.
A similar modern market building with an estimated cost of US$430,424.88 was constructed in Pleebo, Maryland County Electoral district#2 by the African Development Bank (AfDB), bringing to two market building projects funded by the AfDB in 2019, according to reports.
The Pleebo Market project came through the bank's Smallholder Agriculture Productivity Enhancement and Commercialization (SAPEC) initiative in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture in Monrovia.