By S. U.Thoronka.
Honourable Chernor Maju Bah fondly called “Chericoco” in political circles, among his contemporaries and numerous admirers in the public domain, the Running Mate of the All Peoples Congress APC party over the weekend met with a cross section of Abacha traders at the Big Oba Sai Complex on Fredrick Street, Central Freetown.
The purpose of the meeting, according to sources close to the organizers was for APC to woo support from the traders for the March 7th 2018 elections and at the same time the traders would use such a platform as an opportunity to highlight their constraints. The meeting was not only limited to the Abacha traders who were in the majority but the various heads of traders union and association in both the Rural and Urban districts and prominent businessmen within the Central Business District CBD also formed part of the audience.
The spokesperson for the Abacha Traders Fatmata Kamara in her brief welcome remarks informed Hon. Chernor Bah that they were not happy the way and manner both past and present governments have treated them. She said they the traders are selling under very difficult condition during the raining season under heavy down pour and during the dry season under the intense heat of the sun without shelter only to irk a living, adding that a good number of the traders could not meet the high school charges imposed on parents by the school authorities due to inadequate financial resources to maximize profit.
Fatmata Kamara noted among other things that traders are in a disadvantaged situation, that is to say importers who are supposed to do whole sale trade are competing with them in the retail market. “As a result there is nothing petty traders could do but to display their own wares right in front of the importers shops”. She noted also that Abacha traders are trading under very poor sanitary conditions where public toilets if available are not within the vicinity of their business area and that waste disposal is a major challenge. According to the spokesperson it is not the wish of the traders to do business in the streets, but that they cannot do otherwise because adequate market space has not been provided to accommodate the volume of traders in the streets, adding that governments in the past have failed to make necessary provision to relocate them. She said they are in dire need of a micro credit scheme to alleviate their financial constraints.
Speaking on behalf of the traders, the spokesperson Fatmata Kamara pledged their support to the APC party, and promised to vote overwhelmingly for the party in 2018. She said they are identifying themselves with the APC because certain set of people in the society consider their lot as illiterates and “Munku” and as a result they have been subjected to provocation, public ridicule and political intimidation.
Responding, Hon. Bah informed the Abacha Traders that the APC government is not oblivious of the constraints the traders faced in trying to earn a living through self-employment. He said government is also cognizance of the fact that traders play a major role in the economic development of the state, adding that as long as the traders have resolved to vote overwhelmingly for the APC they should consider their problems solved.
He informed the traders that they are not going to vote for Chernor Bah in 2018, but for Dr. Samura Kamara the flag bearer of the APC whose picture is on the ballot paper. He, however, maintained that if the flag bearer wins automatically the running mate Chernor Bah has equally won. He therefore urged them to fulfill their promise by voting overwhelmingly for DR. Samura Kamara.
Hon. Chernor Bah reminded the traders that the issue of children; women and youth empowerment was placed high in the Agenda for Prosperity by the government of President Ernest Bai Koroma and assured that the successor Dr. Samura Kamara would continue in a similar path. He said the establishment of the free healthcare service, universities, the construction of more hospitals, classrooms, roads, provision of electricity, safe drinking water, the vast improvement in agricultural productivity, the creation of an enabling environment that would encourage more investors to boost sustainable economic growth and employment are a manifestation of the Agenda for Prosperity. He assured the traders that no government can do it better than the APC under Dr. Samura Kamara.
Hon. Chernor Bah said the Chairman and Leader of the APC and members of the National Advisory Committee NAC made no mistake in choosing Dr. Samura Kamara as the flag bearer of the APC party. He was of the view that the process which saw Dr. Samura Kamara through in Makeni was directed by God.
Hon. Bah further noted that Dr. Samura Kamara is a well known figure internationally and has worked with successive governments spanning from the 80s to date and had never involved in a corrupt act; adding that the APC flag bearer has all what it takes to lead the country to prosperity. He said as a development oriented economist, Dr. Samura Kamara does not rely on the explanation of economic theories but would concentrate on the implementation of viable projects for the betterment of the people and the country.