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SPEECH: How Road Stalls Pilot Programme Will Benefit All

SPEECH: How Road Stalls Pilot Programme Will Benefit All
Roadside stalls that are part of the new Standard Roadside Stalls Pilot Project at Vakabalea, Navua on May 31, 2018. Photo: Simione Haravanua
June 01
11:00 2018

Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

Whether you drive the Queens Road, the King’s Road or the Hibiscus Highway, every Fijian knows our road­side vendors and we know how impor­tant they are to Fijian life, everywhere in the country.

It’s not easy work, but it is important work. You’re selling goods that are feeding and sustaining Fijian com­munities and giving visitors to our country a sample of Fijian-grown pro­duce, and many of you are putting in the long hours to harvest that produce yourselves.

To our vendors here today, when you put in the time selling produce and then take your profits and invest them back in your farms, in your business­es, in your homes and in your com­munities, you are building the Fijian economy.

And it is your hard work, along with the strong financial management brought by my Government, that has put the Fijian economy on track to re­cord nine straight years of economic growth.

Now, for small business owners like yourselves, that is extremely good news, because it means there is more money to go around in our economy.

Not only does that put more money in your pockets, but you are better served by a larger offering of Government services.

And as we’ve continued to do so well, my Government has continued to in­vest our prosperity right back into the Fijian people, and that includes fund­ing new and innovative programmes such as the one we are launching today.

That also includes our investment in free education for all Fijian primary and secondary students; that includes our investment in infrastructure, new roads, bridges, ports and jetties; that includes our investment in expanding essential services like water, electric­ity and telecommunications; that in­cludes the great assistance we’ve given out to Fijian entrepreneurs through the micro and small business grant scheme, and that includes the new pi­lot programme I have the pleasure of launching this morning to assist road­side vendors across the country.

Resilience

Running a roadside stall is not easy work. It’s not easy bringing goods to your stalls and it’s certainly not easy setting up those stalls, maintaining them and running a profitable busi­ness.

It takes very long hours of work, it takes endless persistence and it takes resilience, because in bad conditions or during severe weather, the going can get very tough indeed.

While all other past governments in Fiji saw those struggles and the hard­ships you faced, it is this Government, under my leadership, that is the first to step up in such a big way to make your lives better and make your businesses stronger through this new programme.

And while my critics will undoubted­ly attack every step forward we take as a nation, my Government will stick to what we know works best for Fiji; and that means investing in hard-working women and men just like yourselves.

What this project really does is take the marketing of your small business­es to an entirely new level; a new look, a new level of reliability, and a new op­portunity for all of you to captialise on and increase your profits as vendors.

These new stalls will give you clean, consistent and attractive storefronts that are worthy of the high-quality Fijian grown and produced goods you have on offer.

Instead of the different looking stalls or temporary tin or wooden structures, some that have seen too many years and are worn down, and many that could use a new layer of paint, you will now have a clean and uniform row of stalls that catches the eye of customers and passers-by, and that says clearly that your produce is of high-quality.

It says clearly that, while your busi­ness may be small, it is run well, it is run professionally and that what you are selling is worth buying.

Pilot phase of the programme

And on top of this new programme, my Government is also vastly expand­ing the networks of street lighting throughout the country, and that is giving vendors the chance to continue selling well into the night along safe, well-lit highways across the nation.

During the pilot phase of this pro­gramme, we are handing over 20 semi-permanent stalls and 10 portable ven­dor stalls.

And this handover is just the begin­ning of a programme we expect to grow every year, reaching more ven­dors throughout the country, giving them facilities they need to run their businesses well and to operate safely.

These stalls are made from high qual­ity materials and they are certified by Government engineers to be able to withstand up to category-5 cyclone conditions.

Because we need to steadily adapt our economy to the reality of climate change, and our vendors, along with every Fijian, deserve infrastructure and assistance that can be relied upon, always, even in times of severe weath­er.

Two types of stalls under this programme

Under this programme, there are two types of stalls: semi-permanent and portable.

The portable stalls will be given to vendors who only sell produce a few days in a week, and the stalls can be packed and rolled up from your homes to the roadside.

The semi-permanent stalls will be set-up in prime locations on the roadside for vendors who sell their produce on a daily basis.

These semi-permanent stalls are basi­cally permanent structures, but they can be removed if there is a road devel­opment or in cases of extreme weather.

I want to be clear: these stalls are be­ing given to you free of charge, but will be given under a lease agreement be­tween you and our Ministry of Indus­try, Trade and Tourism.

I urge you to read those agreements carefully, and make sure you adhere to the lease conditions.

Now let’s make this handover offi­cial, here in Vakabalea, we have nine vendors who will be the first in Fiji to receive these new stalls; the first ven­dors in the country who are benefitting from a programme that I have every confidence will grow to one day im­prove the lives of every rural roadside vendor in Fiji.

I ask that all of our vendors come to the stage after being named:

The six vendors who will be receiv­ing semi-permanent stalls are; Ms Marama Mateibau, Ms Vasiti Seru, Ms Aselika Nailumu, Mr Hiren Prasad, Ms Adi Kelera Vudiniabola and Mr Ru­peni Bulivou.

The three vendors who will be receiv­ing portable stalls are Mr Jioji Raki, Mr Opeti Waqaqalotaki and Mr Meka Sabusa.

I’ve been told that all of our deserving vendors here today sell their produce as their main source of income, that income supports their families’ day to day expenses and funds their small business activities, and I know that these new stalls will go a long way in making your businesses a bigger and more reliable source of income for you and your families. Congratulations.

As I said at the start, today is only the beginning. Under this pilot pro­gramme alone, there will be 21 other stalls installed in areas between Deu­ba-Sigatoka, Sigatoka-Nadi, Nadi-Lau­toka, Ba-Tavua and Tavua-Rakiraki.

And as this programme rolls out, it will expand to every corner of the country.

I’d like to close this ceremony by con­gratulating our vendors and by saying thank you to our vendors here today, and those all around Fiji for the very important work you carry out.

My Government is here for you, as our economy grows and rapidly be­comes more modern, we want all of you to have the ability to take your businesses to the next level.

I wish you every success with your business, and urge you to make the most of this investment.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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