Just when the dust razed by the Tiko market fire disaster was settled and the tears on the cheeks of the victims was drying up and the traders still to get used to the new market situation, the Tiko council is up with their market tolls.
On re-introducing the old daily market sales ticket of FCFA 100 recently, the women around the St. Joseph Catholic Church area stood up like one woman and resisted the tax move with outright confronted with the tax collectors.
Quizzed as to why the confrontation, most of the women said the council has failed in its promises to come to the aid of the women. From the genesis of the crisis up to date, the women said, most of them loose huge property from either the fire or looters who came as helpers and the bail-out scheme proposed by the mayor is yet to reach them.
As for promises, the women said, the mayor, Richard Tita Fombon, assured them of western assistance and prayed on them to be patient. The mayor is also reported to have told the market women with certainty how foreign bodies were ready to dispatch aid to the fire victims.
Life had just resurfaced with the women in the food market as they were struggling to grapple with old and new debts to get started. The pressure from financial institutions for the women to reconcile their debts was still high on them when the council alighted with a scheme not to salvage the women but to drown them further. The council move, it is said, started like a joke as early one morning the market women were greeted by a team from the council which stormed the market site with daily tax tickets.
The surprise is reported to have been huge but the response from the women was spontaneous and collective. The women muscled with the tax collectors and though the atmosphere was noisy and unwelcoming, the women registered day one success and pushed the council workers back to their premises.
Victory for the women was short-lived as day two saw the women in front of a more robust and determined council. Though, the council succeeded in having its way, the casualties are said to have been high. Scars of bitterness and anger still linger on in the Tiko food market.
Today, the atmosphere between the market women and the council toll collectors is tensed and unhealthy. The situation has been further worsened by the absence of toilet facilities to carter for the natural urges of the traders. The nearby land lords have sealed their toilets and prevented the traders from using them.
“There is a big sanitary and hygiene problem in the food market which must be arrested fast”, a health expert commented.
As a food market, it defeats its purpose if the common sights of excreta and flowing urine persist as one jump from one stand to another or from one market table to another. Unbelievable but true is the accompanying swamp of flies that leads you along your market tour. Perhaps the commentator who described the Tiko food market as a potential health hazard zone is not wrong.