Wednesday, October 13, 2010

what happens when you destroy a thriving street market

The headline on the Agence France Presse story tells half the story: Angola shantytown struggles after market bulldozed.

The other half: The market is struggling, too, after being moved 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) out of town.

Roque Santeiro, which some had called Africa's biggest market, was a chaotic sprawl on the shores of Luanda Bay in the Angolan capital. The market was torn down on September 5th as part of a supposed urban renewal plan.

The result: the surrounding neighborhood has been plagued by unemployment and crime. The new market is failing, in part because it costs an astounding 1,000 kwanzas, or $11, to go there and back from downtown. As a result, the country's biggest microcredit lending outfit is no longer giving loans to the merchants.

And for the final piece of the tragedy, the city has yet to announce any plans for the old downtown site.