Serekunda Market Shop Owners Raise Frustration Over Limited Sales Due To “Wanterr” On Roadside

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Serekunda Market Shop Owners Raise Frustration Over Limited Sales Due To “Wanterr” On Roadside
Serekunda Market Shop Owners Raise Frustration Over Limited Sales Due To “Wanterr” On Roadside

Africa-Press – Gambia. Barely a week post-Koriteh celebrations, shop proprietors at Serekunda Market convened a press conference on Saturday, April 13, 2024, to express their frustration regarding diminished sales during the Koriteh period.

These proprietors attributed their dwindling sales to roadside vendors, locally known as “wanterr,” who were permitted by the Gambian government to sell alongside the roads preceding Koriteh, despite previous restrictions.

Addressing the press, Iso Sanneh, a market shop owner, underscored their grievances while urging stakeholders to prohibit “wanterr” at Serekunda Market.

“We’ve convened this press conference to voice our frustration. We were disheartened by the recent Koriteh sales due to the presence of roadside vendors, the ‘Wanterr.’ Throughout the year, we rely on steady sales. However, just when we anticipate a surge in business, the government lifts the ban on roadside vendors, allowing them to flood the market. Many of them aren’t even Gambian. They occupy our space, leaving behind their waste, and depart for their respective countries,” Sanneh expressed.

Sanneh lamented the years spent in the market, paying rents and investing in merchandise, only to suffer losses due to the influx of “wanterr.”

“Numerous shop owners have borrowed from banks, struggling to repay loans due to limited sales. This situation is incredibly frustrating. We urge the government to recognize the impact of their actions,” she added.Amie Jallow, another shop owner, echoed Sanneh’s sentiments, urging the government to enforce regulations against “wanterr” at Serekunda Market.

“We’ve either borrowed from banks or suppliers, struggling to meet repayments. Colleagues demand repayment, yet our sales can’t cover our debts. Every shop is brimming with unsold goods. We implore the central government and KMC to intervene,” Jallow emphasized.

She explained that every shop in the market is overflowing with merchandise due to poor sales. She disclosed that the shop owners are struggling to pay their debts as they don’t have enough money.

“We’re facing all these challenges because of the street vendors. Our parents were here before us, and we’ve grown up in this market. This market is all we have. Our main source of hope is the sales during Koriteh and Tobaski. But with these street vendors causing disruptions, we urge everyone, especially the central government and KMC, to put an end to it,” she emphasized.

Malick Laye also conveyed to the journalists that meeting tax obligations to both KMC and GRA would prove challenging if market sales were insufficient. Despite dutifully fulfilling their financial responsibilities each day, they face difficulty accessing their customer base due to unauthorized vendors at the market.

“We continuously fulfill our obligations by paying licensing fees to KMC, taxes to GRA, and daily duties. However, when it comes to unauthorized vendors, individuals from various countries occupy the market space. We’re exhausted and urge the government to recognize our plight, particularly as we approach Tobaski,” he emphasized.

Following the press conference, Modou Njie, the Market Manager of the Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC), addressed the concerns raised by the market vendors. He stated that this year, they had no intentions of organizing the ‘wanterr’ event.

“Where we chose to organize the “wanterr” was at “Mbaring Padembo” where you people held the press conference. If you check that place, it was completely clean and cleared that the vendors are going to do the wanterr inside the market. But when the ban on street vendors was lifted by the Office of the President, the entire place was occupied. So the management had no choice, but also to organize “wanterr” simply because at the end of the day, all the waste collection should be done by the council. If you check the number of vendors that appeared this year, all the four corners were all closed. Simply because everybody is selling where you want. But the only place that applied for a permit to organize the wanterr was at Baobab Tree Road. Apart from there, all other streets were closed, and it was not part of our permit,” he said.

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