….Is it all politics, politics , politics ?
Some time last year , the Inspector General of Police , Brima Acha Kamara, declared an operation code named “Free Flow ” to get rid of traders from the main streets of Freetown and violators were arrested on a daily basis and charged to court for street trading . Many had their goods seized by police officers during the operation.
Now, traders are back on the streets . They have come out in their large numbers to sell along Garrison, Rawdon, Abacha, Siaka Stevens streets on the grounds that they have been told by the Chairman of the Police Council , Vice President Solomon Berewa to trade on the streets.
Though police are always deployed at the PZ and other crowded areas at the commercial nerve center of Freetown, yet they don’t even attempt to arrest a single trader. Instead, traders have taken all over the city centres with flooded goods which have resulted to traffic congestion and pick-pocketing at places like PZ and Garrison Street.
Victoria Park has also been given to the all business men and women but Mariama Sillah believes that since traders have not been used to selling goods at the park , if they take the risk of going there, customers will ignore them.
Another street peddler along Kissy Road, Alimamy Fofanah , Friday told COCORIOKO that police is only allowing traders to sell on the streets because of want of their votes. Infact, this is the talk that has gained currency in the capital : That OPERATION FREE FLOW has become a victim of politics and the forthcoming General Elections. Unconfirmed reports claim that the traders were allowed back on the streets by the Sierra Leone Peoples Party SLPP presidential candidate, Vice President Solomon Berewa.
When contacted by COCORIOKO, SLPP officials vehemently denied the allegations. They said that the SLPP does not need to woo traders criminally for them to win the elections. They described the lawless traders as liars and people just capitalizing on the situation . But the SLPP officials could not answe satisfactorily why the Police are not going after the traders robustly and vigorously like last year.
As for some of the traders, Sallamatu Bangura at Guard Street said “Even if the police ask us now to use State House and Parliament as markets some of us are not going to vote for the SLPP.They have disappointed us badly “. Another trader , Mayallie Kamara asked whether it is only now that the government wants to appease them. “It is too late,” she croned, craddling her baby and placing a breast into his hungry mouth. For their part, the SLPP officials said that these traders are being used by certain politicians to stir up a conflict between them and the government.
Up to the time of posting this article the Media and Public Relations Unit of the Sierra Leone could not be reached as their lines were not responding to calls.