Vendors want Central market extended
With the over crowdedness currently faced at the Honiara Central Market, market vendors have called on the Honiara City Council (HCC) to consider an expansion to the current facility.
A group of vendors spoken to yesterday say they no longer enjoyed selling their produces at the market venue, as the facility could no longer accommodate the growing number of vendors each days.
The Honiara Central Market is a fish, flower, clothing, fruit and vegetable market, which also sells shell money, and other local crafts such as palm-frond broomsticks, jewellery, coconut oil and hair tonics.
It is also offering the largest fresh produce and fish outlets in Honiara.
Honiara Central Market is a blessing for the people of Solomon Islands.
It was donated by the Japanese more than 20 years ago and the Central Market building would be one of the most valuable aid projects ever.
Thousands and thousands of people have benefited not only from the fruits and vegetables to be purchased but in many other ways.
The produce farmers are obviously the first and main beneficiaries but also the many people of Honiara wanting to buy fruits and vegetables.
In an interview with the Sunday Star, the vendors demanded that the facility needs to be extended to provide good shelter for its vendors and customers.
A North Guadalcanal vendor, Marian Tuku said that it is very dis-satisfactory for her to come and sell her local produces outside the building facility.
“I always come here to sell my green and dry coconuts and vegetables on this spot, which was used to be a car park before,” she said.
Mrs Tuki said that indeed this is another struggle for the local vendors, which is another burden to their everyday struggle to make a living.
“I normally come here with my children and sad but true, we have to stand out here in the open to sell our produces.
“We could not afford to pay for an umbrella, as it would be another extra cost for us to meet, while coming to town,” the mother of 7 children, said.
A widow standing next to Tuku with her root crops told this paper that with how the facility is treating them, it is a total nightmare.
“Every time we came here to sell our produces, we could not stand the weather.
“Whenever it rains or there’s sunshine, there is no place for us to hide because the market building is fully occupied with vendors already.
“We paid a lot of fees for what we bring here. Therefore, we deserved a better treatment by the authorities responsible, when we are doing business here,” the 53 year-old widow, Benadeta Rongo said.
The vendors said this is the only means that is possible for them to make ends meet and to meet the school fee demands of their children.
Another market Vendor, Ralfon Paru from Balasuna area in east Guadalcanal said that this is a long time issue and authorities needs to deal with it now.
“We came here most of the time to sell our produces but the market authority didn’t treat us fairly with what they provided us,” Mr Paru said.
He added that they charged big amount of fees but the facility provided is very dissatisfactory to them.
“You can pay fees for whatever you bring here but if they are not sold out that day, you need to pay for storage and this is another different fee,” he added.
Mr Paru said that this is too expensive for the struggling vendors and farmers andhe think the market authority must seriously consider the difficulties they faced and try to make things fair for all.
His point which HCC needs to consider is if they charge such big fees, they should expand the current building so that it protects all vendors from the scorching heat of the sun and the pouring rain.
When Sunday Star contacted the Honiara City Council Clerk, Charles Kelly for the matter raised, he said that the Market Master is the right person to talk to.
However, attempts to talk to the Market Master last week were unsuccessful.
Comments are still sought from the Market Master and the authorities responsible.
Meanwhile, a senior citizen told this paper that what Honiara City need now is a Market Building for the next 20 years and there is a relatively easy solution.
She said one solution which the HCC and the national government can consider is the issue with parking.
“……..there is no parking in this vicinity. Central Plaza doesn’t have parking and all the offices like Public Solicitors opposite need parking.
“If we could build a 6 storey parking building like at Brisbane Airport. With lots of careful planning it could have a bus interchange for East Honiara to get all the buses off the main road.
“One level could be all the clothes and crafts. One level could have food and a food court with views over the sea and a place to sit and eat,” the senior citizen proposed.
She added that the building could be a focal point for Honiara.
“The tourists could visit there for their crafts. As well as thousands of people earning an income from their activities at the market the City Council would also get more revenue to improve the services they provide around Honiara.”
Along with this, she said the Honiara City Council could replace all the buildings at their Headquarter with one large well designed building and they could also build a covered bus interchange for West Honiara, to stop the buses from holding up traffic by stopping along the main road.
By LESLEY SANGA