Against Operation WID… Traders catalogue grievances
The ongoing Operation WID, aimed at decongesting the streets of Freetown, has left many traders in tears; many traders have lost their stalls and goods to the operation which they are now describing as a civilized form of witch hunting and a war waged against their very survival.
The aggrieved traders yesterday met with the Minister of Trade and Industry, Alhaji Usu Boie Kamara, at Ferry Junction in Freetown where they vented out to the minister some of their grievances against the operation.
Speaking on behalf of the disgruntled traders, the Administrative Secretary of the Petty Traders Association, Mamoud Kaloko, told Honourable Boie that the enforcers of Operation WID have been treating traders with unimaginable ruthlessness and disrespect. He further informed the minister that the enforcers have taken to the habit of demanding bribes from traders and looting their goods, a situation which he said has not gone down well with the traders. He recalled that recently in Victoria Park, the enforcers were demanding a Le 1 Million bribe and those who refused had their stalls vandalized and their wares either destroyed or plundered by the police.
“We have the capability to violently resist the operation but we have decided to hold our peace due to the tremendous respect we have for His Excellency, President Ernest Bai Koroma,” Mr. Kaloko said, recommending that President Koroma must try to revisit the operation in the interest of peace and harmony.
Responding, Usu Boie pleaded with the aggrieved traders to continue holding their peace and urged them to put national interest above their own, promising to move heaven and earth to ensure that their grievances are promptly addressed. He promised to soon convene a meeting of all stakeholders to settle the matter.
The snap meeting was attended by several other dignitaries including the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Alie Badara Mansaray, the Chief Director of Trade, Ahmed Akar Ahmed, the Chairman of Petty Traders Union, Mohamed Bureh Kamara and other executive members of the Union.
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