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Freshwater Mussels Vendors Want More, Better Space At The Market

Freshwater mussels (kai) vendors currently selling at the Suva Market are pleading with the Suva City Council to provide better designated selling space.
31 Oct 2019 13:01
Freshwater Mussels Vendors Want More, Better Space At The Market
Raijeli Tinaivugona and Waisea Seru sell their freshwater mussels at the Suva Market on October 30, 2019. Photo: Inoke Rabonu

Freshwater mussels (kai) vendors currently selling at the Suva Market are pleading with the Suva City Council to provide better designated selling space.

Kai vendor, Raijieli Tinaivugona of Natoaika, Naitasiri says having to think of where they could sell their freshwater mussels is an added burden that they have to worry about when coming down in the weekends to sell.

The 34-year-old said in order to secure a space on a Saturday they have had to leave the village as early as 1am Saturday morning.

“I sell kai (freshwater mussels) six days a week from Monday to Saturday, on Monday to Wednesday there is enough space for us, the spot facing the southern gate of Suva’s Kings Wharf,” Ms Tinaivugona said.

“That particular kai section is actually taken up by other vendors who sell vegetables and root crops also in the weekdays,” she said.

“This leaves kai sellers with only a little space to sell from Mondays to Wednesdays.

“Today (yesterday), as you can see only a few of us are selling in the kai section while the others have no choice but to sell outside in the rain.”

She said on Saturdays they are shifted to the footpaths along Usher Street as vendors who usually sell from the kai section in the market take up their spaces.

“On Saturday we have to look for our own spaces as those who usually sell from the kai section take up their usual space on the day.

“We normally sell from the footpath along Usher Street on Saturdays.

“This creates a lot of problems for us especially we need to water the kai regularly, yet we are far away from the taps.

“The market is usually crowded on the day and when the sun is hot, we need to be watering our mussels frequently.”

She said sometimes they have to brave the cold and wet weather selling from the footpaths.

“It has been a challenge and all we are asking if  relevant authorities could also provide us with sufficient space in the main market for us to also sell kai.

Amoni Liunavuna braves the rain to sell his freshwater mussels at the Suva Market on October 30, 2019.

Amoni Liunavuna braves the rain to sell his freshwater mussels at the Suva Market on October 30, 2019.

“Currently we are paying $3.50 per day for the spaces we sell from but we are always willing to pay more if that would mean better infrastructure and selling spaces.”

She added that despite the challenges, market vendors have always enjoyed each other’s company socialising regardless whether it is a good or a  bad day.

“We have our good business days and sometimes we have our bad ones, despite the many challenges we enjoy each other’s company especially when we are here to work for the common goal of trying to provide for our families and put food on the table.”

Feedback:  inoke.rabonu@fijisun.com.fj

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