It was a very disturbing and embarrassing situation on Monday, July 5, 2021, at the Gobachop market in Paynesville Red Light outside Monrovia when President George Weah’s official convoy passed through without stopping to greet his officials, who had gathered hours earlier, waiting for his arrival to inspect progress made on the new Omega market.
Score’s of government officials including Acting Public Works Minister Ruth Collins, Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee, and the leadership of the Paynesville City Corporation, among others along with scores of reporters had converged at the Gobachop market as early as 8:00 a.m. to assess work on the market project and remove the heap of garbage by the city corporations.
But after inspection of the market by the Acting Public Works Minister and staff of the city corporations of Monrovia and Paynesville, news that President Weah was expected to visit marketers at the Gobachop market was short-lived, as the President drove thru without making a stop, ignoring the presence of his officials apparently due to the mountains of garbage that have engulfed the market ground.
Officials were left in limbo as the Presidential convoy coming from town speed away, something, that left officials in shame and speechless, not able to say a word to members of the press why President Weah couldn’t stop to greet them, including jubilant marketers, who had waited for several hours.
The embarrassing situation left marketers to deduce that not much work was done in removing garbage in the market, for which the President did not stop.
“We all saw what happened during Ellen’s time before Ellen came here, people who have cleaned up this entire place, and this is exactly what we expected the mayor and his entourage to have done before inviting President Weah to come”, they said.
Some marketers accused authorities of the Liberia Marketing Association of collecting garbage fees from them, but failing to identify a place to dump the garbage, something they said, contributed to the garbage forming mountains.
“This attitude on the part LMA is embarrassing, because people no longer buy our market because of the dirt, and yet we’re still paying fees to them.”
Prior to the Presidential convoy driving thru without making a stop, Acting Public Works Minister Ruth Collins during a tour at the newly constructed market in Omega community, Red Light told reporters that the visit was intended to assess the project and see the readiness of the structure for quick relocation of marketers.
“We’re here today to monitor this project and how soon our people can move in; this we think will create easy access to market women bringing their produce from other counties”, Minister Collins explains.
Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson T. Koijee says the essence of their gathering was to embark on a mission to clean up Paynesville City that has been engulfed in huge filth.
“It is about time that we try to reorganize Red Light like what we did in Waterside, we will [provide] solar lights which will provide security to you marketers”, says Mayor Koijee.
He underscores that authorities of the Liberia Marketing Association should take full charge of the opportunity being provided by the government under the leadership of President Weah, adding that there’s a need to work together and see the process as a common duty.
“Those of the marketers that will agree and relocate to the newly constructed market will be a good decision, but if you refused to relocate and continue selling in Red Light Gobachop, you’re putting yourself at risk because you will lose a lot of things. This isn’t about politics, it’s about the well-being and safety of our people”, Koijee explains.
“Our presence here shouldn’t be misconstrued by PCC despite the mayor’s absence today doesn’t mean she’s not working; we’re a government therefore, we are there to complement each other, this is not about who’s effective or ineffective. Wherever there is a challenge, we move in and offer assistance.”
He calls on community dwellers, LMA officials, and marketers to work together and designate a place for the MCC to build where they will deposit their trash, saying we will not condone coming into Red Light Gobachop market to clean dirt, and that four nights spent at Gobachop market in removing garbage was costly.
The mayor, who is from the ruling Coalition, warns that marketers and business owners that do not wear facemask in public risk fine or imprisonment.
Last Friday, July 2, the mayor announced that the city government under his leadership was taking heavy-duty trucks and trailers on a rescue mission to clean up the Gobachop market in Paynesville and other areas.
But from all indications, President Weah wanted the stockpile of garbage off, but that was never done so his action on Monday clearly sent a signal that a lot more needs to be done by Koijee in terms of ridding Montserrado County that hosts the nation’s capital and its environs of dirt particularly, amid the health pandemic. By Lewis S. Teh Editing by Jonathan Browne