Lifting the Sunday “No Trading Ban” is Crucial for Our Economic Recovery
1960 Ordinance had prohibited Sunday trading within the Freetown Municipality. Though valid, the law was hardly implemented in post independent Sierra Leone. The advent of multi-party democracy and the rapid urbanization of Freetown meant that citizens would, require certain liberties and freedoms that would enhance their economic status in a competitive environment. The Freetown City Council also needed to collect taxes and the bulk of these came from the business community.
The Sunday Observance Ordinance was also probably based on the fact that the state was founded and governed by Christian principles. This however could not hold ground because Freetown which had now been dominated by rural folks (who are mostly Muslims) could not be seen to be implementing a law that only caters for a section of its population. There was also a fairly large Muslim Krio community settled at Fourah Bay. The dynamics definitely had to change for Freetown to become e a true cosmopolitan city.
Fast forward to 2014 when this time, Sunday trading was prohibited not because of any social convenience but to help stem the rapid spread of Ebola at the time. The Sunday ban brought much discomfort especially to petty traders because most of them earn their living on a daily basis from the sale of consumables purchased from the shops of wealthy merchants. Places like Sani Abacha Street, Malamah Thomas Street, Dove Cut, Hagan Street etc have remained popular with petty trading.
We certainly cannot underestimate the huge contributions petty traders are making to the national economy. This writer believes a huge chunk of domestic revenue is generated from small scale businesses. If this is the case, then it is only possible that the current Sunday trading ban is causing us to lose a significant proportion of our domestic revenue.
In the face of an economic meltdown, it makes very little sense to prevent our business folks from fully utilizing the days of the week to help fill the gaps apparently created by the austerity measures. The Sunday ban is obviously no longer tenable and it’s a complete mockery of our drive to resuscitate our ailing economy.
In a broader, sense it represents a clear violation of the rights of citizens to engage in meaningful economic activities for their livelihoods.
We are no longer in a health emergency.
The Sunday No Trading Ban Should be lifted.
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