March 22, 2023

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Ivory Coast: Street markets are a big mess in Abidjan

#IvoryCoast : It is rare to see Abidjan traders occupying the streets anarchically and illegally. These traders conduct their business quietly to the detriment of the peace of the local residents. Almost 12 communes of Abidjan are affected by this situation.

In Abidjan, the Ivorian economic capital, many streets are increasingly being turned into illegal markets. In almost all municipalities, this phenomenon is gaining momentum. Here, in Yopougon Siporex, the surrounding streets of this district are occupied by hundreds of vendors. Built in the 1970s, this city green has been an open-air market for 20 years. Here, the sale of various goods often rings with fights, thefts, deafening noise and many other difficulties. All these are helpless in this situation to the detriment of local residents.

«You can easily be attacked and cannot go home after 6:00 PM», Siporex denounces Arnaud, the leader of the town’s youth.

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«Here, it is not a market. We grew up here, in the foothills, it was an open field, as children, we played, and today people have settled. You want to go home, there are people, we don’t know who. Insecurity is what bothers us. The case of town hall anarchist installations should be observed», Adds local resident Alice Natasha.

Locals say that traders have temporarily occupied this green space only during the trade fair held in 1992. Since then, the site has been turned into an illegal and anarchic marketplace. Destroyed several times, vendors re-colonized the place each time. Under umbrellas and tarpaulins, they offer a variety of services to customers, from serving food to selling old clothes, shoes and phones.

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«I do my small business here, I sell sauce with rice, atike and fish. It won’t be easy for people to get out of here because you can’t go anywhere to sell», Supports restaurant manager Noëlle Sedji.

«We are not power. They are there and they sell. There is nothing we can do, it is difficult. Do you see me forcefully asking them to leave? I can not», Mariam Diaby, a local resident, resigned.

Yopougon municipal authorities, for their part, are working on building modern markets, two of which are now operational. The cost of all these markets under construction is 1.10 billion CFA francs (1.676 million euros). Objective: To put an end to these illegal and anarchic markets and shift large number of traders to modern platforms. However, for some, markets require more space to meet demand.

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«We are still working on this problem, according to the traders there are not enough seats, because you know, in business, every day a new person sets up with his desk, so , let’s say 600 seats. Not much, because maybe 5,000 traders», Arnaud, head of the youth of the city of Siporex, says.

As a reminder, according to residents of Abidjan’s illegal and anarchic markets, the municipal authorities of their respective communes continue to levy taxes. A situation weighing on the fight against these anarchic and illegal markets.

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