By YVONNE HAIP
MOTHERS selling cooked food on the streets of Mt Hagen city are begging the city authority and Mt Hagen police to leave them alone to carry out their business.
Margaret Mana, from the Kamnga Wung village, located on the fringes of Mt Hagen city, told The National that most of their land had been taken up by the city, depriving them of space for gardening or planting of coffee for income.
“Please leave us alone.
“The police overturned our carts and wheelbarrows containing food for sale last Wednesday.
“Why should they be so harsh and cruel?
“Many mothers are now engaged in poultry projects to support their family and to send their children to school.
“I sell cooked chicken and bananas daily on a wheelbarrow after office hours from 5pm till late.
“My son David Mana helps me.
“Other mothers are also doing the same to make ends meet,” she said.
Mrs Mana said their regular customers were bus drivers, security guards and night-shift policemen.
“Cooked chickens sell faster. At the market, sometimes not a single fresh chicken is sold a day,” she said.
Mrs Mana said last Wednesday, David was beaten up by the police after he tried to salvage the food from the wheelbarrow.
“Policemen arrived in a vehicle and started pouring out the contents of wheelbarrows belonging to the women.
“My son tried to run away with the remaining food but he was beaten up by the police.
“He suffered a bruised face and a swollen elbow.
“The police used stones to attack him,” she said.
She called on the authorities to allow them to operate because “we will ensure that there is no littering”.
“Please have more mercy on us.
“It will be more humane to allocate a section in the city for us to sell cooked food,” she said.
City manager Victor Megao said this form of business was illegal and discouraged for health reasons.
“Selling of cooked food poses health risks and police have been told by the office of the city authority to stop this,” he said.