Bopolu City, Gbarpolu County – Residents woke up to the honking of cars and motorbikes on Saturday morning August 5, 2017, for the weekly market day in Bopolu City, Gbarpolu County. The market attracts people from far and nearby villages, towns, clans, chiefdoms, and districts to the county’s capital. Many come here to buy or sell farm produce or local-made products and basic necessities.
“We want them to build the roads for us; we want latrines around the market for the marketers, we want safe drinking water for the marketers.” – Maimai Kamara, female marketer
Since the official start of political campaigns on July 31, this weekly market has also attracted several candidates contesting Gbarpolu County’s electoral district one seat at the Legislature.
Political campaigns have overshadowed regular activities at the market; sounds of loudspeakers echoing political messages filled the air. Slogans and messages vary from one candidate to another. Some carrying caption like “Time to serve”; other reads: “Together We Can Do Better” or “Change for Hope”.
Amid these loud messages, marketers appear resolute about electing someone who they maintain should seek their basic needs and interests.
“I can vote anybody that wants me to vote for them; I will vote because they [have] been lying to us,” said Yassah Lavelah. “They are not trustful but I will vote for someone who will look after our business (plight).”
“The people that running (contesting) do not want me to vote for them because the other people we put there forget about us,” added Kula Jonah, another marketer who had traveled on bumpy roads the night before.
“I don’t want to vote for any of them but maybe only for my children business I will think about to vote, not them,” she said.
Maimai Kamara, a retailer of used clothes, is also concern about the many challenges they are experiencing.
“We want them to build the roads for us; we want latrines around the market for the marketers, we want safe drinking water for the marketers,” she said while stressing the deplorable condition of the roads.
“At times you are bringing your goods the car will break down, your goods can leave on the road and spoil,” she said. “So, we will vote for the one that will do what we want.”
“This time, if they do not do what we want, we will not vote,” said Patience Kollie, another marketer who frowned at the presence of loud speakers in the market. She described politicians as “shameless” and said they are insensitive to marketers’ plights.
Many of the female marketers at one of the county’s busiest markets repeated concerns about the bad roads, lack of safe drinking water, public latrines and storage facility for their goods amongst others.
A vegetable retailer who usually buys from local farmers in the area is worry about storing her commodities at the market. Kebbeh Sharp wants the government to build a concrete market building with warehouses to ensure their goods are safe.
Another marketer, Mamain Morris, wants representative candidates in Gbarpolu County to prioritize the interest of locals.
“We need good roads, good hospital, and loan for the business people to do business in Gbarpolu County,” she said.
“When the people ready to vote they will come to us. They’ll say we will do this one, we will do that one, but when we vote them they forget about us. Why they’re doing that one to us?”
Report by: Henry Gboluma, Jr.