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20th April 2018

Why Citizens Want Total Lifting of the Sunday Trading Ban in Sierra Leone

By The Ranger (27/03/17)

Sierra Leoneans heave a sigh of relief for the recent resumption of part time Sunday trading but the people want the ban lifted 100 per cent.

When the Ebola virus invaded this country in 2014, leaving in its trail massive deaths, orphans, widows, stigmatisation, economic dents, one of the other telling effects which emanated from the series of preventive measures instituted was the imposition of a ban on Sunday trading through a Presidential proclamation under the State of Emergency. (Pictured: Sierra Leone Trade and Industry Minister Allieu Pat-Sowe, left).

Henceforth, it became prohibited for traders to engage in trading activities on Sunday and it was strictly mentioned that violators will be punished by law enforcement agencies, mainly the Police.

That proclamation was greeted with mixed reactions by the entire citizenry who looked at it from various perspectives. One school of thought argued that the prohibition falls within the ambit of the country’s colonial statutes and so it must be legally binding. They furthered that, morally, after trading from Monday to Saturday, traders should at least have one day, Sunday, in this instance to have time to spend with their families stressing it such that will foster good family ties and nurturing.

On the other hand, some viewed it on the flip side, saying it will cause an unnecessary burden on not only petty traders who are hiking a living but also on the bulk majority of consumers.

Good as it may be that the ban was apt at a time when the Ebola virus was ravaging the entire nation and one of the channels through which the virus was spread is body contact then it was not only timely but very much appropriate. 

With resolute dogged interventions by the Government and other relevant stakeholders at last we were successful in subduing the marauding Ebola virus. However, with time and for quite a considerable period of time now the Sunday ban still remains.

For many, the ban has been annoying causing a lot of discomfort. It is no secret that the bulk of petty traders wholly and solely depend on what they derive from daily sales in order to feed their families and take care of other responsibilities. 

Depriving them through the ban has become very burdensome and painful especially at a time like this when the country is going through austerity measures. This is all the more reason why even though the ban stands there are behind the scene business transactions.

For consumers, most have been going through tough times to buy what they can afford to consume especially easily accessing foodstuffs and other consumables.

As far as it is concerned, because of the present economic meltdown, it is not wise or suitable to prevent business people from engaging in economic transactions on Sunday. For all that is known the Sunday ban is no longer tenable and it is indeed a mockery of our stride to resuscitate our ailing economy. 

It was therefore welcome news that the once famous Koindu International Market became functional on Sunday 19th March 2017 from which traders coming from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone will converge to trade which will continue on various days including Sunday. We are expecting that the lifting of the Sunday ban on trading activities will follow suit countrywide.

We cannot underestimate the revenue that will accrue through taxes generated from trading activities which are needed by Government. The Sunday trading ban should be lifted!  


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