By Amin Kef (Ranger)
As discussions in various circles continue as to whether Government should allow traders to continue to conduct their business activities on Sani Abacha Street or for the traders to find alternative locations, on the 29th August, 2022 the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT) officially handed over the Sewa Grounds Market for its completion to 7 contractors with the projection that after completion the market will host over 1000 and more traders.
According to, Abel Onomake, the Consultant for NASSIT the work is expected to be completed in the next 120 days starting from Monday the 29th of August 2022.
Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Hinga Sandi thanked NASSIT for its timely intervention, adding that he has looked at all the engineering processes saying it would be good for traders. He said traders within the Central Business District of Freetown have suffered for so long, stating that after the completion of the building, traders would now have a dignified market place to find their livelihood.
Minister of Transport and Aviation, Kabineh Kallon briefed that before the start of the project, his Ministry and NASSIT have been engaging behind the scene just to see the project gets to its completion stage. He informed that as a Ministry they have also started implementing a World Bank project of constructing market structures, over-head bridges for pedestrians and street traders across the city of Freetown.
The Director General (DG) of NASSIT, Mohamed Fuaad Daboh started by explaining the delay for the completion of the Sewa Grounds Market. He said since 2018, the contract of the market has been under serious investigations by different Government institutions especially the ACC to know how the contract was awarded and why the project was not completed before the time frame given.
“So this caused the delay but however, for the past two years now, we have been working with the Management and Board of NASSIT to see how we can complete this project. It has been back and forth, we have to go through the procurement process and I think that went well. So we are here today to officially hand over this building to the contractors,” he said.
The DG went on to explain to the general public that with efforts made they have been able to reach to the stage of awarding the contract to 7 contractors that would ensure the building is completed within the stipulated time given to them.
He emphasized that the money for the project is an investment money and so therefore, he added “after the completion of the market traders are expected to pay for the facilities before they can have access to it.”
The Chairlady for Abacha Street trader in her statement said that: “At first we saw this relocation as against our existence and became angered, but after series of meetings with traders we now agreed that the said new location would enable us the market women the opportunity to work in a dignified environment. Abacha Street has become choked and taken over by all sorts of negative things, including street trading and lawlessness. We are excited that businesses could be transacted in a more conducive environment. I want to implore all our members to embrace the Project, the complex is made for all even those on the streets. We are excited about the new move.”
The Guinea Store Chairperson also added that, the Government’s decision to relocate their daily business activities to a more conducive environment is ideal to uphold its international image. He added that the Abacha Street trading as it is today is no longer good enough for business transactions due to the social vices that have given the place a negative image.
He also appealed to contractors to ensure its completion within the stipulated deadline to enable traders actualize their dream of a befitting and conducive business environment.
On his part, Abubakarr S. Jalloh, President of Phone and Allied Products Dealers Association said the new Business Park was their dream maintaining that the present Abacha Street has no room for expansion and that the environment is not befitting for doing business anymore.
“So we need a more befitting and organized place for our business like this Sewa Grounds business complex,” he expressed delight.