Traders Snub Armed Forces Day
The Armed Forces Day, which President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma pronounced as a public holiday in commemoration of the official day the 11-year civil conflict was officially declared over in the country, was observed in low key on Thursday 18th February with less cooperation from the business community in Freetown and other cities and towns.
It could be recalled that because of the outbreak of the deadly Ebola pandemic in May 2014, the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) was not able to celebrate last year’s Armed Forces Day as most of its annual activities were put on hold amidst the Ebola fight which they actively participated in.
According to eyewitness accounts, while public institutions, diplomatic missions and international organizations and agencies observed the Armed Forces Day celebrations yesterday by closing all operations, most institutions and individual business outfits in the private sector opened their businesses to the general public as if it was not a public holiday.
Businesses were operating normal in the Central Business District (CBD) of the capital as Lebanese, Indian, Nigerian, Fullah and indigenous shops were opened to the general public while petty traders were on their normal hustling and bustling from Calaba Town in east end Freetown to the far west.
“Even the no-trade regulation being enforced on Sunday is far much effective than the Armed Forces Day which we should be observing as public holiday as patriotic citizens,” comments Henry Kortu, a student/teacher at the Freetown Teachers’ College (FTC).
He argued that if pupils and students, public servants and other workers in reputable international organizations and agencies who have more important things to do can graciously honour our public holiday, why should the Lebanese, Indians, Fullahs, other foreigners and indigenous traders not honour that day in commemoration of our gallant soldiers and officers who laid their lives fighting to protect the territorial integrity of Sierra Leone from external aggression.
Many other concerned Sierra Leoneans who raised serious concern over the non-recognition of the Armed Forces Day by the general public blamed Government for the non-enforcement of the President’s declaration of the day as public holiday.
“It is prudent for every patriotic citizen of this country to observe the Armed Forces Day in that our brothers and sisters who were in the army sacrificed their lives to save the civilian populace from external aggression; we should therefore observe that day in appreciation of those sacrifices they made during the rebel war,” said a civil servant, Mr. Aruna Samai.
Many other Sierra Leoneans expressed similar sentiments in support of observing the Armed Forces Day as public holiday for everyone residing in this country.
They suggested that Government should grant the RSLAF the authority to enforce the recognition of the day by the general public, adding that punitive measures should also be taken against business houses and institutions that will attempt to operate on that particular day.
Bintu Kamara, a trader at Sani Abacha Street, posited that the Armed Forces Day is a strange public holiday which majority of Sierra Leoneans are not aware of, adding that the Government should sensitize the public on the holiday for people to appreciate its importance.
She however opined that as business people who eke out their living from their daily business activities, not all public holidays they should be observing since there are many holidays within a year.
Bintu maintained that if the Armed Forces Day should be observed by the general public, it is Government that has to make it possible by enforcing it as a law.
Many of her business colleagues expressed similar views about the holiday and praised Government for not forcing anyone to observe it.
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