Some of the hardest working people in the country can be found at the Fugalei Market.
They wake up before the sun rises, tend their plantation, they take the bus to the market and return home long after the sun has set.
One would think that such hard working people deserve great recognition from the leaders of the country but according to 50-year-old Valasi Aiolupo from the village of Afiamalu, they are neglected.
Approached by the Village Voice yesterday at her stall at the Fugalei Market, Valasi was grateful that she can finally let the country know what’s going on.
“The thing is, if you want to take a shower then it’s best to come and work in the Fugalei Market, the roof really drips badly,” she said.
“I have been waiting for a very long time to get a chance with the media because I want everyone to see how hard we try to get money to look after our family, and if this is the condition of the market then it’s all a waste of time.
“They refuse to help us vendors by renovating the roof of the market. We struggle really badly and I just don’t know where the stall rent money is going.”
According to Valasi, the government and the market management has done nothing to fix the bad state of the market after so many complaints.
“The fact of the matter is, it’s not our job to fix these things, they (Market Management) are the ones who are supposed to fix these issues because we pay for the stalls,” she said. “But what do they do instead? They do nothing. The office hasn’t done a single thing to help the situation.
Valasi says that the old market building was better than the one they are currently in.
“The old market had a few problems too,” she said.
“We have been here since the start of the old market building and if I am to be honest with you, I think I prefer that old market to this one because we didn’t have problems like these chasing the customers away.
“We made more profit back then.”
Even when it comes to the organization of the stalls there are issues.
“There is no order in this market,” Valasi said.
“Everyone who is in the market is all mixed up. They the management is supposed to be a bit more organized than this.
“But rather, we have a flea market in the middle of the restaurant areas. It’s not good at all.”
According to Valasi, no one can make a proper living under these conditions.
“They are putting money before the people here in the market,” she said.
“It’s very hard for the newcomers and those who have been working stalls for a long time. The government seems to be giving more attention towards bigger business and neglecting us small market vendors who are struggling already.
“The market should have been done properly a long time ago. But I guess we don’t matter to the government.
“Not all fools are fools.”