By Titus Boye-Thompson :
President Ernest Bai Koroma put his full weight and executive power behind Mayor Bode Gibson when on Sunday 2nd February 2014, he authorized resources to accelerate the completion of the Sewa Grounds market for the movement of petty traders and street hawkers to relocate. President Koroma has authorized the removal of some zinc structures which he opined were unsuitable for the purpose of market stalls and has asked the Minister of Finance to provide resources, committing up to Le1bilion to the project of refurbishment and renovation of the existing structures.
The first phase of the work sanctioned by executive approval will be the erection of a canopy based on a steel frame structure to be followed by upgrade of toilet and wash facilities at the proposed market.
The second phase will be to complete the renovation of the unfinished concrete structures to accord for a second tier market with the result of creating a market mall atmosphere in what would then be a modern market environment. Traders from Sani Abacha Street have always been given first option on this site and that commitment by the Freetown City Council will continue to be respected. In discussing the President’s intervention, Mayor of Freetown, Franklyn Bode Gibson welcomed the President’s concern for the welfare of the market traders, pointing out that the conceptualization of the move of street traders to a market environment were in keeping with the tenets of Operation WID. Mayor Gibson was also grateful for the President’s prompt action in galvanizing support from central government on what is a primal local government aspiration and he confirmed that such close collaborations were in keeping with the common and joint destinies of both central and local government. Relations between President Koroma and Mayor Bode Gibson are at an all time high with the Mayor expressing his pleasure and confidence in His Excellency President for supporting his efforts to de-congest Freetown and to rebrand this city as a world class city with adequate facilities and amenities for its citizenry.
PRESIDENT ERNEST KOROMA
The addition of a canopy to the Sewa Grounds will modernize as well as beautify the market environment, creating amenable trading places for traders and an environmentally friendly trading condition in both the dry and wet seasons. The canopy may allow for water capture and recycling during the rainy season whilst providing cover from the sun during the dry season. This addition will undoubtedly make Sewa Grounds an all-weather, all-season market with adequate trading facilities and amenities.
The support that President Koroma has proffered to the acceleration of the Sewa Grounds market now puts paid to the conjectures that his administration was unfavorable to the move to the site by the Abacha Traders. The President’s visit to the Sewa Grounds market site was made on the spur of the moment and at a time that accorded him serious reflection of the issues rather than attract unwarranted publicity by his visit. He went to the site on a Sunday but was astute to make adequate arrangements to have his main Ministers on site during the visit. In the event, he sent a very strong signal to the line Ministers that he was serious about the success Operation WID, and more especially serious about Freetown regaining its proud status as a worthy capital city where every citizen can enjoy the beauty of the environment. There are very potent reasons to de-congest Sani Abacha Street especially for the fact that this is one of the main arterial roads leading into Freetown, linking the East end to the Western side of the city and thus serving local and International travelers coming through to the Western part of the city. This support from President Koroma is timely and has been welcomed by the Mayor of Freetown as an endorsement of his own efforts to strengthen Operation WID, a worthy concept of His Excellency the President to engage the city of Freetown on Waste, Indiscipline and De-congestion.