By Dawda Baldeh
Market vendors at Bakoteh Fish Market raised concerns over the perceived increase in criminal activities within the market and called for Government intervention in curbing crime. Our reporter visited Bakoteh Fish Market on Saturday 18th September 2021 and contacted the Gambia Police Force Spokesperson to get his reaction.
Speaking to this medium, the Head of Bakoteh Fish Market Association, Ms Haddy Gaye said that they are facing a lot of threats from criminals at the market. “What we are encountering now is unacceptable,” she said.
Ms Gaye feels that the challenges facing market vendors are huge and called on the authorities to intervene and resolve the matter.
“The way things are getting out of control, the crimes rate is rising now, a week or two will not pass without hearing news such as murder, robbery [and] stealing. As women, we need help because we cannot sell our fish comfortably, thieves are surrounding us,” said the Association Head.
According to Ms Gaye, she has been selling fish in the market for 38 years. In her view, in the past, criminal activities were rarely encountered in the market. However, of late it has become a challenge to even speak on your mobile phone because thieves frequently snatch mobile phones from people in the market.
Ms Gaye alleged that thieves often break into their shops and steal their properties. “Some will follow you to your home if you close from work. We are women and we cannot do anything to them,” she explained.
Mrs Gaye noted that the situation is becoming unbearable at the market. She alleged that thieves now dare to steal money from people in the market even in broad daylight.
Another fish seller, Ms Ya Sainabou Mbye said thieves are really disturbing them (women) at the market, especially in the evening when they are about to close and go home.
“Our business is now very slow and the little we get from it, thieves won’t allow us to take home. Now we must take town trip when going home. Sometimes you can come to the market and go home with an empty pocket but thieves won’t believe that you don’t have money,” said Ms Mbye.
According to Ms Mbye’s narration, thieves hide in remote areas to attack women and even men with bags. The deteriorating situation has affected their business which also impacts their children’s education as many vendors struggle to pay school fees due to theft and reduce income from fish sales.
According to sources, the market has now become an investment center for thieves who come there to snatch people’s properties on a daily basis.
Our reporter contacted the Gambia Police Force Spokesperson, Mr Lamin Njie to respond to the concerns of Market vendors regarding their perceived increase in crime and what the Police could do to address this. However, after five days he declined to comment. More efforts will still be made to solicit a response on this issue.
Veteran Faults Lack of Home Training and Poor Culture of Self Employment
However, Mr Sheikh Sarr a resident of Bundung who sells fish at Bakoteh said people should not blame the government for the increasing crime rate in the country. Mr Sarr strongly believes that the problem is down to lack of home training.
In Mr Sarr’s view, if parents take responsibility and train their children to be responsible, the crime rate will reduce.
Speaking on the rising youth unemployment in the country, Mr Sarr noted that “all they want is to get money in an easy way. There are plenty jobs in the country. Our youth are only interested in office work but all of us cannot be in the office,” he explained.
The veteran fish seller said those who are not lucky to be in the office should learn skills rather than stealing. With over 40 years of fish selling experience, Mr Sarr believes that self-employment is the best way to earn money.
Mr Sarr also believes that there is security in the country. “All we need is to train our children to be responsible. The government can’t do it alone,” he said.
Reminiscing of the cultural changes Mr Sarr recalled that in the past, people will discipline children found misbehaving without knowing them. However, that culture of discipline has now dissipated.
“Now if you do that the next minute you will be taken to the police. We must go back to our homes and train our children if we want a solution to these problems,” Sarr emphasized.
He challenged parents to advise their children rather than waiting for the government to intervene. In his last word, Mr Sarr highlighted that the country can only remain the Smiling Coast if the youth are ready to take responsibility.