Farmers and vendors question Vt10,000 Municipal fee
The Vanuatu National Farmers Association (VNFA) has raised a major concern about the Vt10,000 fee imposed by the Port Vila Municipal Council in a letter to the market vendors.
Market vendors must pay up the fee before Saturday February 10 (today).
The VNFA has written to the Minister of Internal Affairs, appealing to the minister to look into the matter.
In their letter, VNFA revealed that the Port Vila Market House was an initiative by mamas selling their products back in 1977, who have struggled with the sales of their produce to earn enough to feed their families and afford their children’s school fees.
“It was during that time when the idea to collect 500 FNH from each of these mamas and farmers, that impressed the French administration and were willing to build the first market house.
“We (farmers) have already found it difficult with transport costs, table costs, school fees and many other needs and if we were to pay the fees to the Municipal, their services and treatment towards us is unsatisfactory
“The toilets at the market house are in a deteriorating state, there is no hygiene and sanitation in these facilities and the nearby food stall is not safe.
“There’s no proper sewage system in place and we have not heard or seen a full report of the activities and revenue for the market house,” the letter stated.
The VNFA alleged that since Cyclone Pam destroyed handicrafts that belong to the vendors, the government reportedly then promised a new handicraft centre and a grace period but handicraft paid fees as soon as they entered the market house.
“The mamas were promised to move to the new handicraft market once it was completed but today the program of that new building did not go along with what was said and today they are crowded in a confined space at the main market.
“Every time there is a fee established for the market by the Municipal, there is no proper awareness and consultation done so there is an understanding between the farmers and the PVMC, our question is why did they wait until the dissolution of the council to apply this fee?
“Is the Vt10,000 applicable to other farmers from other islands? If we pay, are the tables reserved for us? Such fees were never published in a gazetted by-law according to CAP 126 and the PVMC has not issued an official receipt at the market house.”
The VNFA has also queried in their letter why the PVMC has collected the money from the market and is using four mamas to clean the market for four years without any allowances or salaries.
“We have tried to get an appointment with the PVMC Town Clerk and the Market Manager but they are never available to hear our concerns.
“We are making an appeal to the Minster of Internal Affairs to assist and sort out this longstanding issues.”