Stalls and kiosks renters at the Serrekunda market were recently caught with the bitter surprise of being charged twice the equivalent of the monthly fees they pay to the Kanifing municipal Council (KMC). While the municipality deems its new 100percent rise on the monthly levy justified, vendors consider the increment disproportionate and ill advised.
Stall occupants feel squeezed by KMC
“Boka Loho Association” of the Serrekunda Market is one of the groups bargaining to obtain that the increment on the stalls and kiosks is reduced, if not simply rescinded until a common ground is found between the stall occupants and the KMC. Dodou Njie, a mobile phone technician, is the president of “Boka Loho Association” and a member of the Serrekunda market committee. His group comprises 337 members specialized in different businesses, including mobile and laptop technicians as well as other petty electronic businesses. Dodou Njie believes that KMC ought to look over the 100% increment for many reasons.
According to Dodou Njie, many occupants of the KMC stalls are youths struggling to make a living in a context of hardship with not much profit to make from their businesses. “We pay monthly fees and we also pay, each, a yearly license between D2, 000 and D2, 500. We have families to feed and to be honest, it is not easy for the youths here. Doubling the charges on our monthly payment is definitely counterproductive for our businesses ’’, the “Boka Loho Association” leader explained.
He said the hardship is such that the association helps its adherents to survive and develop sustainable businesses with loan schemes from the membership’s individual monthly D100 contributions.
Dodou Njie said the market association has approached the market committee on different occasions to strike a compromise. “Nothing is yet done and all what the municipality prioritizes is squeezing us to make money from our meager earnings. For example, two toilets at the first floor of the market have been turned into stalls”, Njie said, as he calls on the KMC officials and the market committee to pay heed to the stall occupants’ demands.
KMC: “Gambian stall occupants illegally hike tenancy to non-Gambians”
Modou Njie, the KMC Markets Manager at the Council says the increment was as a result of series of consultations with vendors at the Serrekunda market. Njie said he personally wrote a letter to the general council and a meeting was held with the vendors’ committee in order to discuss solutions to the potential challenges that may rise with the increment.
“All stakeholders in the consultations agreed to an increase of 100percent on the monthly payment of the stalls. The increment is for all stalls initially charging D1000 and D2000 per month as well as the kiosks paid for D500 by the occupants”.
According to Modou Njie, the new levy has enabled KMC to improve on the quality of service in the market. “Many things were not in place before. We have now built toilets facilities, provided lights and CCTV surveillance cameras to upgrade the security. We have two surveillance stations, 9 security agents stationed at the main market and another team of 9 agents stationed at the car Park. We have equally dug two boreholes and installed taps at different spots of the market. The increment on the stalls will also support the market management to refurbish and renovate any damages on the toilet facilities” Modou Njie told The Chronicle.
Proudly listing KMC’s recent achievements, Modou Njie added that personnel of the Police Intervention Unit as well as and additional group of securities guards have been hired by KMC for additional security support.
He said the money paid to his office are tax payers money with he said should be put into a save coffers and use it for important purpose especially the development of the market.
He said there are 19 markets in the Kanifing Municipality under his leadership control with his team, he said Serrekunda is the biggest market with has 484 Stalls and 853 Kiosks.
‘’When I took over as the KMC Markets Manager, I discovered that our Gambian fellows acquire stalls on the basis of a monthly Payment of D500. But immediately after getting them, they cede these stalls to non-Gambian nationals after charging them a huge amount of money. I did my independent investigation and I discovered that our own Gambian people allocate the stalls they acquire from us and get illegally paid almost D60, 000 per annum. This is how other nationals have now occupied the stalls more than the Gambians’’ Mr. Njie said.
The KMC markets manager said his office is contemplating how to create an environment for those that need space for their businesses. He said KMC intends to build 1000 stalls of which the Serrekunda Market shall benefit from.
Sulayman Dampha the Public Relation Officer (PRO) for the Serrekunda Market Committee said his entity has had a meeting with the vendors as regards their plight. ‘’We have discussed about this matter of high levy on the stalls by the KMC. We also discussed other pending issues. We are yet to see any reaction from the KMC officials’’.