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Abidjan: Clean-up operations make mass victims

The nation-wide clean-up operation tagged “Opération pays propre’’ is underway. The operation which aims at retrieving the public domain back to the government intends to beautify the cities of the West African country. Shops and houses built in government-owned spaces are completely or partially destroyed. The issue of compensation and relocation of the victims is not on the governmental agenda and will probably not be any time soon.

Demolished Shops in Abidjan. Credit: Frank Danon.
Demolished Shops in Abidjan. Credit: Frank Danon.
The operation gives cities their splendors and get rid of their garbage and uncontrolled construction, but it has left many traders without jobs; with no alternative to earn some income to feed their families. The operation raises the issue of the relocation of traders. Till now, national councils and unions of traders have not been able to find a solution to the problem.

The proposed relocation sites are either on the outskirts of the cities, far away from where the traders had their shopping centers or far from the places these traders’ unions covert. Most of the places traders’ unions want to move to are either privately owned property or land that the state cannot yield.

In 80% of the localities where the operation still continues, negotiations are still underway. In Yamoussoukro, the Prefect, the state representative, said his cabinet will find a common ground with the aggrieved traders. In Yamoussoukro, the victims of the clean-up operation (those who were sacked from the municipal lorry-park want the government to accelerate the renovation works of the city market before they could settle there. City Hall officials say, due to budgetary constraints, they are not able to give a specific date for the completion of the renovation works.

In Yamoussoukro, many disgruntled traders say the construction of a temporary space on the edge of the lake, in the N'Zuéssin neighborhood would be a working alternative, but City Hall officials are reluctant to construct a space on the bank of the lake because it supplies drinking water to the city and the businesses around. Such a project could pollute this source of water.

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