The Government of Liberia (GOL’s) enforcement of Coronavirus measures at the Waterside General Market in Monrovia on Monday, March 30, demolishing stalls left the densely populated commercial district virtually a ghost town, as aggrieved and frustrated marketers vehemently protest the move by state security.
The protest ensued here after marketers returned from their usual weekend break only to meet their stalls completely destroyed with nowhere to sell.The affected protesters, who usually sell in front of stores, on sidewalks, and Water Street, the main street, expressed disappointment in the action of the government that led their market tables destroyed.
Speaking through one of their leaders, only identified as Ma Fatu Howe, the frowned at the Liberia Joint Security apparatus, including the Monrovia City Police (MCP), Liberia National Police (LNP) and Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) for condoning the vicinity while state bulldozers broke down their stalls overnight.
Madam Howe explains they were protesting because the government has taken bread from their mouth, lamenting the authorities are not providing citizens any assistance such as food and other basic needs to keep them at home, but rather going after their only source of survival.
She says other countries that asked their citizens to stay at home, provide assistance packages unlike Liberian authorities.
The protesters chanted slogans such as, “No food; no selling, we want to sell”, as they demand stores to close down in solidarity to ensure that all sides are affected.
Interestingly, while some of the aggrieved marketers were busy shutting down stores, a senior official of the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) backed by scores of city police officers, paraded some of the stores that were not closed, instructing them to have their business houses painted with the national color, Red, White, and Blue, effective 30 March to 3 April 2020 or risk drastic action from the government.
The aggrieved marketers vow to continue protesting until President George M. Weah could intervene and provide remedy to their problem, reiterating, “We have nothing for our families to eat and cannot stay home and look at them to die simply because we are fighting Coronavirus.”
Meanwhile, as news about the protest spread to other parts of the capital, including Broad, Mechlin, Ashmun and Front Streets respectively, among others, owners of stores there decided to shut down their various businesses to the general public for fear of retribution.
Up to press time yesterday, security forces arrested dozens of marketers for selling in the streets in violation of preventive measures instituted by the government.
The Government of Liberia recently pronounced the Coronavirus pandemic a National Health Emergency here, declaring Montserrado and Margibi Counties as “infected areas.”
“All travels in and outside the Montserrado and Margibi areas are discouraged”, said Minister of Health, Doctor Wilhelmina S. Jallah.
Minister Jallah said the action is in keeping with Title 33, chapter 14 of the Public Health Law of Liberia.Liberia has recorded four confirmed case of the virus with the latest reportedly a female from Grand Gedeh County, in the southeast. By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Jonathan Browne