Market vendor, Lusiana Valelala could only heave a sigh of relief after a new accommodation specifically for rural women vendors was officially opened at the Suva Municipal Market by the Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation Dr Jiko Luveni .
The 58-year-old smiled with glee and says now they can have a proper place to rest after many years of lying down on cold concretes when they come to sell their crops.
“It has been long time coming. I’ve been a market vendor for over 20 years. I must say it’s a very thoughtful gesture by the Suva City Council and the government of the day in providing a form of shelter for some of us who travel long distances to make a living,” the Nakorotubu Villager says.
Lusiana adds she and 20 other women from surrounding villages in Nakorotubu, a district in the Ra Province often travel by carrier to the Suva market with their market produce to sell. “We would come down on Thursdays and sleep over night on the cold floors just outside the market so we could reserve our spot, now it’s easier with this shelter.”
The Suva City Council has spent close to one hundred and fifty thousand dollars to build the shelter near the market. The women vendors will only pay a minimum rate of $2 to use the facility. “I want to say that it is time to change our general perception for women in society,” said the Special Administrator Suva City Council, Chandu Umaria at the launch. “This project is absolutely a reflection of Suva City Council’s interest in the women in business.”
“These women provide a much needed service to the citizens of Suva and the public at large. When our Prime Minister visited our rural farmers, he noted that the most important issue they are concerned about, apart from infrastructural development, is the facilitation of a comfortable, market vendoring program so that their women are cared for and supported while in Suva. I am sure that, as of now, they are breathing a sigh of relief and we, who are here today are with them all the way.Without them (rural vendors), the Suva community will be without cheap fresh and healthy food produce,” said the Minister for Women and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Jiko Luveni before opening the shelter.