Market vendors question why they should pay rent

Fugalei market vendors have questioned why they should pay rent for the stalls but are unable to sell and display their products due to heavy rain this week. 

The daily rent for the handicraft stalls is $10 tala and $6 tala per block and tables used by the farmers and those selling food. 

Tina Laulu, a widow who sells handicraft at the market, expressed her disappointment as the problems caused by the rain is not new as their products are ruined in the extreme weather conditions. 

She said whenever it rains, they either close their stalls or bring in their own tarpaulins to shelter from the rain. 

“We have been dealing with this ever since the market was setup. I mean its impossible to do something about it – we are paying rent and this is where they should invest in – to buy tarpaulins to hang down half way from the side of the market. That way it will act as a cover to stop the heavy rain and wind from blowing our products everywhere,” she said in an interview. 

“Sometimes there is no point of setting up our small business during this weather, because we have to cover it from the rain to ensure its not damaged yet we still pay for the rent.”

Furthermore, Ms. Laulu accused the responsible corporation of not hearing their grievances. 

“I thought they are the ones that are supposed to look after our welfare and safety from matters like this,” she said. 

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“Isn’t that what they stand for? We have told the staff that come around to collect our receipt about our concerns and no answer. They take our money but don’t look out for our welfare and how we are affected by the rain that runs inside the market…we all get soaked from that rain.” 

Another vendor, Moe Lei Sam agreed with Ms. Laulu. 

She pointed out that with the rain damaging their products, the responsible agency should not be collecting rent. 

“We shouldn’t be paying rent this whole week because the rain just comes in,” she said. 

“The market is poorly designed because it did not consider this kind of weather and how it will affect vendors. Whoever designed it should have known we have two seasons, rain and dry season and things like this will happen. We need tarpaulins up there to stop this rain from coming inside the market.” 

She added the staff that collect their rent have been informed of their concerns whenever they come around. 

Most of the stalls on the side of the market that is affected by the rain were closed because of the heavy rain. 

When contacted for a comment, Accident Compensation Corporation (A.C.C.) operations manager Fauono Gladys Fuimaono, said the vendors need to make an official request so they cannot pay rent during this bad weather. 

“If the vendors can make that request with us then we can also make a report to our Board for them to look at and consider,” said Fauono. 

“The corporation is also continuing its work to fix the gutter where some of the water comes from and affect the stalls. The market was designed in a way that we can sweep out the waste from taro and we have workers doing that to maintain the market. We also have tables setup in a way that it is easy for vendors to sell products like vegetables.” 

   

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