Temporary market empty, food stalls back in action

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia ,

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BACK IN BUSINESS: Stall owners go to work at Savalalo.

BACK IN BUSINESS: Stall owners go to work at Savalalo.

A temporary flea market being set up by the government at Savalalo is slowly taking shape but as of yesterday, no stall owner had moved in.

Instead, most of them were at the Vaitele market, trying to get their $1,000 assistance from the government. 

The assistance was announced last week by the Minister of Public Enterprises, Lautafi Fio Purcell.

At Savalalo, on the other side of the bus depot and in front of the fish market, most of the food stalls that were in the market have setup their own tents. 

They have started to sell things like pork buns, drinks, cakes and other food items.

Nu’utoloa Taulealea Telefoni said they started setting up last week.

 “I’m quite surprised because our sales have gone up,” said Nu’utoloa, of Elise fou. “Compared to the flea market, we now collect an extra $700 on top of what we normally get. 

“I guess it’s because there is only a few of us food stalls here and the students have no choice but to buy what is here.”

While he was grateful, Nu’utoloa said the $1,000 from the government is not enough. 

 “They said it’s just something immediate for now,” said the father. “But if you think about it, it’s not that much. Having said that, they had promised that more would come after so we will see what happens.”

Another stall owner, Malelega Lepele, said her sales have dropped.

 “We’re selling pork puns at a cheaper price of $1 when it used to be $1.50,” said Ms. Lepele. 

“We are trying to make up for the days when we fell behind financially. It’s the start of school and we are trying to make up some quick money to help our family and children back to school.”

As for the $1000 assistance, the stall owner said it was better than nothing.  Amosa Toa shared the same views as Ms. Lepele. She said sales have been slow.  “The food is cooked from home just like them,” said Mr. Toa. 

“And we just sell them here because we are also aware of the health risks preparing food in the open area. Its extra work but you have to work to earn if you want to get paid.”

The food stalls are currently not paying any rent for their temporary tents. But it’s not just stall owners that are feeling the pinch as a result of the fire. 

Taxi drivers have also been hit.

Joe Ioane said the fire has had a massive impact on their daily takings. “Without the market not many people take the taxi in this area,” said Ioane.

“Most of them just stop at the other market while others get off the bus and jump on the other one. Some taxi drivers have decided to find passengers at other spots and some roam around

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