Most of the people who spoke to this medium, mainly women, said the incessant confiscation of their goods have drastically affected their livelihood. They justified that most of the roadside vendors are average Gambians who live from hand to mouth.
“The police have confiscated my goods and detained me in the cell for six hours. Later on, the police officer demanded D1000 so that he would release me. We bargained until we agreed at D800. I paid him the money (D800) and he released me. He did return my goods but never gave a receipt for the paid money,” Alieu Ceesay, told The Point in irritation.
Mr. Ceesay argued that the security personnel have no legal mandate to detain him and fine him without trial.
He said the vendors are not causing any criminal acts that would warrant their detention and goods confiscation, adding they [petty traders] are just working to earn a living.
Mariama Sanneh, vegetable vendor said: “About two weeks ago, a police officer came to my selling point and confiscated my goods (plate of vegetables) that were bought at five hundred dalasis (D500).”
The vendor explained that as soon as the police officer confiscated her goods, she wasted no time and rushed to the police station to get back her goods but the station officer told her the perishable goods would rather get spoiled at the police station than her getting them back.
“I left the perishable goods with the police two weeks ago and I know it has spoiled now,” she bitterly to this reporter.
Mariama said the confiscation has affected her business for some days due to the fact that she was not having operational cash to continue the business but later on took out a loan to continue the business.
Isatou Kujabi, a vendor, said: “The police have confiscated my vegetable valued at D300. I went to the police station on several occasions and appealed to the police to return it and the pan but they refused. I had to purchase another pan to continue selling. This is worrying.”
She also said when the police refused to return her goods, she borrowed money from someone to continue her petty trading. “I have to work to feed my family but the police are disturbing us,” she told The Point in sorrow.
Isatou Ceesay, mother of six, narrated her ordeal with a male police officer, saying: “One day, I saw a police officer coming towards me. I ran into the market but he followed me. When he reached me, he poured all my vegetables in the stagnant water.
“I was angry but afraid to talk to him because if I should say something he may take me to the police station.”
Jainaba Jallow, a 14-year-old vendor in the market, also recalled losing plenty of perishable products due to the continuous confiscation. However, she expressed worry that government is denying them from selling at the roadside without giving an alternative.
“As long as the government denies us selling beside the road, let them give us another place to sell,” she said, while carrying her plate of vegetables.
Therefore, they all called on the government to allow them to sell beside the Coastal Road Market or provide an alternative for them. The vendors added they depend on that place to sustain their families.