By Sampson Cole :

Thursday June 22, 2004

The Mayor of the Municipality of Freetown, Winstanley
Bankole Johnson has told members of the National
Traders Multi Purpose Union that the city of Freetown
which is the gateway t
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Addressing the Traders Union at his Wallace
Johnson Street yesterday, Mayor Johnson lamented that
it is not because market facilities are inadequate, so
people should sell their products everywhere on the
streets. He pointed out that most of the kiosks that
operate during the day are converted into bedrooms at
night with no toilet facilities. That is one of the
main reasons why you see a lot of black plastic bags
filtering the streets in the morning full of mess he
said. In a no nonsense mood he asked “Tell me is this
the right attitude?” adding that “at the end of the
day you blame government and the council for not doing
much in terms of cleanliness.”

 He stressed “We are
determined as a Council to transform this City to its
past glory.” He maintained that while traders are
complaining about lack of space within the markets,
the very traders themselves have converted the
spacious places into mosques. He went on, “traders’
leave their goods in the streets to attend prayers,”
and asked the Trader Union whether that behaviour is
right or fair. The Mayor called on the Union to embark
on an educative drive of its members to ensure that
they do things that would be in their best interest.
He called on those who have converted these market
places to mosques to go and pray at the nearby Central
Mosque. These burdens he stressed are caused by the
non-trading act, and they usually dump the blame on
both the Central Government and the City Council.

The Mayor further called the attention of the Union to the
situation that is prevailing within the Sewa Grounds,
where people who belong to these various Traders
Unions have used their influence with the previous
Council to put up cement structures and charge
exorbitant fees on other traders. He went on, “half of
Sewa Grounds is not properly planned.” He lamented
that people have converted the Sewa Grounds to
dwelling houses and all sorts of domestic and social
activities are carried out there, while people still
grumble that there is lack of market facilities in the
City. Mayor Winstanley Bankole Johnson urged the
National Traders Multi Purpose Union to address these
issues which would be in the good interest of all the
business people and those in the community.


In a determined tone, he told the traders that these
structures will be demolished with the blessing of the
National Traders Multi Purpose Union. Mayor Johnson
therefore urged them to do what is right inorder that
people will listen to them. The Mayor further
explained to the Union members that his Council would
soon be taking a drastic step against club owners who
usually disturb the free flow of traffic by putting
chairs in the streets and playing loud music much to
the displeasure of neighbours. On children roaming the
streets of the city, he warned that anyone who allowed
his child to engage in such activity would be
committing an offence. He explained the creation of a
committee whose sole function is to seek the welfare
of these children selling packets of cold water in the
streets. There is ample opportunity for them to grow
up as responsible citizens, he maintained.

On the issue of streets being converted in garages, the Mayor
explained to his audience that plans are afoot to
remove them from within to somewhere outside the city.
That is what is done in other countries so that
vehicular as well as human traffic can flow freely in
the city. The President of the Traders Union, Gibrilla
Turay raised the issue of the Non Citizen Trade Act,
which he said is one of the main constraints that have
led to numerous street trading in the city. He called
for the implementation of the act inorder to minimise
street trading.

The Mayor however quickly informed him
that his duties do not fall in that category. Also
yesterday the Mayor and Councillors received a
delegation from the Motor Drivers Union led by their
President Abubakarr Sillah, They too expressed their
desire for closer working relationship with the
council and called for the return of the Dan Street
lorry park back into their domain. Mayor Bankole
Johnson lauded them for their strides but called on
them to start thinking seriously of establishing these
parks outside the capital city so that development too
can be spread to the villages outside Freetown.

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