By Sulaiman Juldeh Bah
Presidential flag bearer of opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio has reassured street traders; especially those of Abacha Street and the Central Business District (CDB) that if elected President of Sierra Leone come 27th March, his administration will not chase them off the streets.
Speaking for the first time after the 7TH March elections, Bio described rumours mounted by his political opponents that SLPP plans to chase traders off the streets of Freetown as misleading and baseless, while reassuring them that his new administration would rather engage them to find a lasting solution to the perennial challenges of street trading.
He said he could not go after them like common criminals because they are citizens of this country who are going out there to find their living to take care of their children, provide feeding, pay rent and medical bills.
He noted that most street traders are women and single parents who deserves better and it would not be in the interest of any government to chase them off the streets without first providing a conducive atmosphere for them to do their business.
Apart from the reassurance of not chasing them off the streets, Bio also promised to create an enabling economic environment for petty traders to access loans from the banks to expand their businesses from local to international business people.
Bio furthered that with the enabling economic environment provided, petty traders would be able to form themselves into groups rent shops within the CBD like other foreign nationals do and travel to world market hubs like Dubai, China and London to buy goods.
He appealed to them to resist any attempt by his political opponents to use baseless propaganda tools to create a rift that does not exist between the SLPP and the street traders to make it appear that the opposition party is against traders.
He also appealed to them to vote for him on the 27th March run-off election for a better Sierra Leone where their children would have free and quality education, affordable health care, youth employment and a vibrant economy.