By Juldeh Njie
The vendors at the Senegambia Crafts Market have been issued a letter from the Department of Physical Planning asking them to vacate before 23 November in preparation of the OIC conference slated for next year.
The market secretary said the action will “be a massive setback” for their businesses because at least 35 stalls will be demolished.
Bamba Njie complained: “They should have done this before the season commenced because they knew this was going to happen. Why didn’t they plan for it since, but wait until the tourist season has started and we had made our investments and now asking us to leave without allocating an alternative place for us?”
He said the market “has been in existence for decades” and so many of them are eking out a living from their businesses there.
He said the government should help its citizens especially those who are ready to contribute to national development. “But by asking us to leave our jobs and become jobless, the government is creating a disaster. We are not going to leave the place if they don’t allocate a new place for us. Those days are gone, when the government will intimidate its citizens into doing something. That maslaha syndrome is over,” Njie defiantly added.
He said “the government is always making mistakes because it doesn’t engage in dialogue with the citizens”.
Gibril Jaw, a vendor, said: “We don’t have a problem with them demolishing the place; but our problem is the time because the letter came on the 5th and it states that we should leave here by the 23rd for the demolition to commence on the 25th.”
Jaw said they were promised that they will be transferred to another place “but the government has done nothing that will show us that they have allocated another place for us.
“We are appealing to the government to suspend everything and allow us till after the tourist season. If we vacate this place, we don’t have any place to put our items in”, Mr Jaw said, “What they told us is that they want to expand the road but we are with the belief that it is linked to the OIC conference.”
Raki Tall, another vendor, said: “This is the only place we make our living. If they wanted to demolish the place, they should have given us a notice earlier because this is where we make our living”.
Another vendor, Fatou Jagne, said: “I am a family woman and I cannot even sleep well because of this”.