Weah’s Regime: Era of Modern Market Buildings
Many decades of deliberate neglect of ordinary Liberians, mainly women, in the informal business sector nearly gives the impression that they do not account at all in society. Not only are the country’s market women and petty businesspeople chased with whips here and there by Government’s law enforcement officers because they have nowhere decent to do their business; those who have some luck to be stationary under a roof are left to operate in extremely filthy environments. But President George Manneh Weah and his government have begun to change this 170-year-old story.
In the last three years, they have built many state-of-the-art market buildings, several others in the offing, across the country; something that adds dignity and motivation to those who are petty businesses, predominantly women, to feel a part of the society. OUR STAFF WRITER takes a look at what the current government has done so far to change market women’s story in Liberia.
Everyone knows that Liberian marketers are the underdogs, at least so they were treated, in the country’s trade and commerce regime. Their petit businesses have been nothing but subsistence or from hand to mouth, as we say commonly in Liberia. For decades, they were treated as nonentities even despite the fact they are a critical segment of the economy—the informal sector—catering to the country’s most economically vulnerable population.
And one way our society has demonstrated contempt and carelessness for our marketers is to close eyes and ears on the filthy environments in which they do business. Most political leaders had closed their eyes and ears as if our marketers are supposed to or destined to do their petit businesses roaming the streets or selling in makeshift, dilapidated structures.
For President George Manneh Weah whose childhood life found him roaming about in such shanty structures helping his mother sell palm nuts, cold water fish or simply passing through from and to school almost daily to get pennies for lunch from his mother, Liberian market women or petit traders deserve better.
After all, and in his view, it is these petit traders that form the bulwark of the economy, standing for the upbringing and schooling of over 80 percent of young lives in the country. Many of them are widows, orphans and indigents whose life situation is not their own fault but the making of society. The President and his administration therefore believe helping market people saves a whole generation. Ignoring them foments poverty, hunger and illiteracy.
Thus, as the 24th Liberian Chief Executive took the mantle of power, he got on the move immediately, making “Market Women, Petit Traders are Humans Too—They Deserve Better” a popular slogan cascaded into practical development initiatives.
Giving the syndrome of competitive priorities in Government’s spending tradition, and knowing that his administration could not afford to leave market women and petit traders behind, Dr. Weah spend time begging altruistic friends to help. So, with or without Government money, the President embarked upon building state-of-the-art market buildings, rescuing ordinary Liberian businesspeople from shanty structures with leaking roofs, without toilet facilities, without safe water, without playground for children.
The tangibles are there for the public to see, as the Weah administration built one in Du-port Road, Zubah Town. Another one is located at Old Road Joe Bar community, with 400 tables, 13 shops, six modern latrines; including provisional stores to enable marketers securely store their goods.
The President also constructed a modern state-of-the-art market structure in the Omega Community, Paynesville, with funding for the US$3.8 million by the Government of Japan. He completed and modernized the Ganta Market and constructed the Pleebo Market with funding from the African Development Bank.
Recently, the President broke grounds for the construction of a modern US 3.8 million dollars market building in Duala Market.
Joining hand with the President and Government in their spree for building modern market buildings across the country, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Hon Nathaniel F. McGill modernized and expanded a dilapidated shaft in Gbengbar Town on the RIA Road.
Lord Mayor Jefferson Koijee has introduced quick-impact initiative to modernize market stalls. Go down Waterside and see modern, colorful market stalls—quite a revolutionary move—to add some feathers of dignity and style to petit trades.