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Jidhafs' Central Market's street vendors evicted in raid

Bahrain News
Fri, 10 Aug 2018
Mohammed Al A’Ali

STREET vendors have been evicted from illegal plots at a popular market for the second time in less than a month.

Inspectors raided Jidhafs Central Market again yesterday and confiscated goods being sold from 12 unauthorised, makeshift stalls.

It follows a similar swoop on July 10, when 45 traders had their products hauled off by Capital Trustees Authority staff.

The same body was behind yesterday’s raid, after illegal stalls reappeared outside the market.

Only eight of those identified last month had been given special permission to continue business at the location, due to being Bahraini.

The latest action provoked a standoff between traders and municipal staff, with the former initially refusing to allow their items to be removed until police were called in.

However, Capital Trustees Board chairman Mohammed Al Khozaie said it was justified, accusing vendors of spilling onto the street while spaces inside the market remained empty.

“Shops are empty while all goods are on sale five metres into the road,” he said.

“The road is not part of the market.

“The traders can confront whoever they want, but the law has to be enforced.

“They are breaking the law and there should be no leniency towards the traders.

“Yet the situation was addressed calmly, rather than having them arrested.”

Yesterday’s raid followed a surprise visit by newly appointed Capital Trustees Authority director general Shuwqia Humaidan on Wednesday.

The decision provoked anger among those affected, some of whom can be heard criticising the decision in a video circulated online.

“What was said against government officials on video is not acceptable considering they were doing their job, but we are not seeking any action in this particular case,” said Mr Al Khozaie.

The market has existed for around three decades, but a lack of air-conditioning and maintenance has affected the flow of shoppers and encouraged traders to set up shop on the street.
Last month’s raid was taken after Bahraini and illegal expatriate traders were given two weeks’ notice to vacate empty land and roads nearby.

Vendors say they have appealed several times for a market upgrade over the past 10 years, but without success.

However, Mr Al Khozaie said all 53 registered traders would soon be provided an alternative location – with plans for a revamp of the current facility on the cards.

“The new marketplace will have spaces for all 53 traders, including the eight we allowed to continue after last month’s raid,” he said.

“It will be tendered next month. The market will not be knocked down, but will see extensive remodelling.

“This is Bahrain’s second biggest central market and should be up to customers’ expectations.”

A statement by the Capital Trustees Authority said it would meet the affected traders on a regular basis from next week to find solutions to their problems, adding that it might be possible for them to continue selling on the street under certain conditions.

However, in the video of yesterday’s eviction, angry traders questioned why Jidhafs Central Market had been targeted.

“We have been here in this market since before any one of you was appointed at the Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Ministry,” said one.

“This is not Seef Mall,” added another. “But the new director general can’t understand this is a traditional market.”

A third urged inspectors to raid another area in Manama, which he alleged was frequented by illegal expatriates.

“Go to the area opposite Salloom Ma’atam in Manama,” he shouted.

“There are Bangladeshis sitting without residency or work permits.

“We were forced to pay BD200 instead of BD20 for Commercial Registrations (CRs), but remained quiet.”

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