By: Haddy Ceesay
A cross-section of vendors at the Serekunda market has expressed frustration over the ban on ‘Wanterr’, a seasonal commercial activity when commodities are sold at giveaway prices.
Speaking to the Fatu Network, the vendors expressed the hard situation they have found themselves in as they would spend all their resources buying commodities only to be told they are not permitted to operate at the market.
Mara Sain, a vendor at the Serrekunda Market said the police asked them not to ‘wanterr’ their goods along the market roadside, where they have always carried out the activity.
“I spent my money to buy products but I don’t have space to sell, which is so disheartening. I have nearly spent over fifty thousand dalasis (50,000) on fabrics but now I cannot sell my products.”
Modou Kara Faal, also a vendor at the Serrekunda market said that he is a family man and he makes a living from the little business he does at the Serrekunda market. He further said that they can engage in criminal activities but they will not do such, rather they prefer to sacrifice and work than engage in any illegal activity, adding that not giving them a permit is unfair.
“The ‘Tobaski’ is approaching and this is the chance we get to sell our products by putting it up for ‘wanterr’ but they did not give us permits, which is unfair.”
Tamsirr Joof, also a vendor, said people have been blaming the young people for not working but we are not given opportunities to work. It is as if we are not citizens.
“I am a Gambian and if I don’t work in my country, where do they expect me to work? Many foreigners are given space in the market but the citizens are left out,” he said.
Joof further said that many young people have died on the irregular migration route to Europe and yet the authorities do not want to help the young people who are willing to work in the country.
Awa Bah, a customer said that she prefers buying commodities at giveaway prices like ‘wanterr’ prices rather than from the shops in the market, saying ‘wanterr’ favours less privileged people like her as its prices are low.
Sulayman Dampha, the PRO of the Serrekunda market confirmed that they had a meeting two weeks ago with the Gambia Chamber of Commerce (GCCI) about banning ‘wanterr’ across the country.
Mr Dampha also said the ban is because of the many challenges posed by ‘wanterr’ vendors to actual shop owners who pay their taxes.
Fa Jabbi Gassama, the Chairman of the Serrekunda Market Committee said the reason for condemning the popular ‘wanterr’ activity was because it was affecting the economic sector in the country.
Mr Gassama said shop owners pay their duties every day and still, they cannot access their customers because of the many scattered ‘wanterr’ vendors in the market. He calls for stakeholders to ban ‘wanterr’ altogether.
“I am urging all the stakeholders to condemn these people [wanterr vendors] from selling on the roadside of the market.
However, the Serrekunda market vendors, who engage in ‘wanterr’ are urging the authorities to grant them permits to sell their products.