By Lincoln G. Peters
Paynesville Business Association (PABA) President Mr. Sheik Y. Jalloh is calling on the government to rethink its decision to close stores in the Red Light shopping center or risk serious unspecific actions.
Speaking in an interview with reporters in Monrovia, Mr Jalloh said the decision taken by the Liberian government is premature and contravenes the earlier agreement reached with the government and Red Light businessmen.
According to him, they were never informed of the store closures because the last meeting they had with the government at the City of Paynesville Cooperation with the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathanial F. McGill, Finance Minister Samuel Tweah and Justice Minister Musa Dean, among others, it was agreed that only street vendors would be moved to Omega Market, while shops in Red Light would remain open.
“This is the deal we made recently. However, unfortunately for us, to our surprise, the police barricaded us and prevented us from having access to our stores. They even beat up the store owners for them to open their stores. We are peaceful but impatient people and therefore, we are going to do something strange in the coming days when there is no such thing as a positive response to our concern,” threatens Mr. Jalloh.
He says there was no quote from the government on store closures, adding that the latest action is a far cry from what they proposed at the meeting.
“What’s happening at Red Light is wrong. The stores that have been closed for the past few days and week are really bad. We have goods in these stores and stores. Some of us have frozen goods and all of those goods are going to go bad. damage and we will lose. We are taxpayers and should not be treated this way. Now that they have closed our stores, how do they expect us to pay our taxes? That they rethink their decision “, he pleads.
Commenting on the situation on Monday, February 14, 2022, in an interview, Montserrado County District #3 Representative Cee-Bee Bashell said that it is very wrong for the government to use power to exercise rather than to use the law to wield power, saying “You just can’t lock people’s shops up, stop their free movement, and shut down all the places around it.”
The Government of Liberia, through the Monrovia City Cooperation led by Mayor Jefferson Tamba Koijee, recently closed all stores in the Red Light Mall to allow for ongoing road construction. Editing by Jonathan Browne