Food stall owners back in business
Four food stall operators at the Savalalo market have received their health cards and are open for business.
Samoa Land Corporation (S.L.C.) Team Manager, Alo Neti Tupa'i, told Samoa Observer four operators qualified for the health cards.
"There are four stall owners that have got health cards and that's why the food stall market is open for business. The health card is what we needed because we had already cleaned up the place and did what needed to be done on our part," he said.
There were some operators who also did not pass the medical checks in line with the S.L.C. requirements to be issued a health card.
The food section in the market has been given a facelift with the S.L.C. repainting all tables and fumigated the area to ensure it is pest-free before the food stall operators moved back.
In a bid to further improve its service, the S.L.C. is currently running a survey to get the views of the public on what type of food should be sold at the market.
"The survey we are conducting right now is to see if people would love it if we sell pork cakes and food that contains vegetables, we will try and sell healthier food for the public to consume,” Mr Tupa’i added.
However, there continues to be concerns that the fees charged by the S.L.C. for the health cards are excessive for the average market vendor.
A mother from Vailoa who is a food stall operator, Faleata Situanai Taualagi Sila, said it would cost her family over $300 tala for the medical checks for herself and her three children who assist at the stall.
"The health cards were issued to us for free, however, we had to pay for the checkups that we had to go through. We had to pay $50 tala per person to get checked by a private doctor and $30 tala to get our blood, feces, eyes and ears (samples)," she said. "It cost us $320 tala, not counting how much we spent on going and back and forth, to get our health cards. Sometimes when we come to get our health cards they would tell us to pick it up the next day because it's not ready.”
Members of the public can also query the availability of a food stall operator’s health card when making purchases, according to Mr Tupa’i, who warned that those who do not display it will have their stalls shut down.
"The public can ask any of these stall owners about their health cards, because they are required to wear it every day and every time. We (S.L.C) will shut down any food stalls that fail to comply with the rules," he said.
While there are food stall operators who failed their medical tests, there are others who passed and are still waiting for their health cards.