Experience proves that letters to The Ed complaining about a retail outlet that advertises in their rag will never see the light of day. Therefore, knowing that Fijipenioners.com is widely read; and well aware that it is up to us silver-surfers to fight injustice and push and shove to get things put right, here goes! 

The Fiji Times, Thursday 29th December reported, front page, that vendors at the junction of Mead and Princes Roads, Tamavua, were illegally selling produce on the side of the road. At first they set up across the road from MH Superfresh – proper little stalls, too. Last year they were chased away by the SCC. They returned. 

So the SCC erected stubby pine poles, and placed old tyres and planted them (so tacky), thereby making it impossible for stalls to be erected. So the sellers moved across the road to the MH Superfresh verge. 

Enter the SCC in the voice of Mr Chandu Umaria. Now, special administrator Umaria is rightfully praised for the many improvements implemented by the SCC. There is no doubt that many of them were overdue, especially the works along theSuvasea-front, which when finished will benefit everybody. However, in the matter of the sellers at the top of Mead road, he is just plain wrong, unjust, and far from the truth. 

Umaria claims that their presence is illegal, that he has spoken nicely to them, but if they do not move the police will be called in. He says that ‘residents living in the area had complained about the food sales’ and adds ‘It’s unhygienic. The food sold there is exposed to dust and vehicle fumes’.
 

Come on, Mr Umaria – where are you coming from? Is there a market anywhere inFijithat is NOT exposed to dust and vehicle fumes? What about the one situated a little way down the Laucala Bay Road – that is actually on a lay-by so that cars can drive right up to the stall (a very fine looking stall it is, too) and purchase from their cars. Fumes? Dust? 

The Navua Market is situated right on a road opposite an earthy, grassless verge that in dry weather makes that stretch of road a dust-bowl. Dust? Fumes? 

And how about the market situated beside theNokonokoBridge? Now that market not only sells produce – it also sells fish. This is a very busy and dusty road with plenty of exhaust pollution every rush-hour. Fumes? Dust? 

What about the vendor stalls set up outside R. B. Patel at Centre-point? Ah – now here is a difference. RB’s actually allows produce vendors to sell on it’s very own premises! 

Now this writer might be wrong, but suspects that it is MH’s management that wants those vendors to vamoose because they undercut it’s own vegetable sales – $4 inside – $2 outside! But that doesn’t scare RB Patel. So why couldn’t MH do the right thing and give those vendors a small space of their own? On the other hand, if this is purely an SCC issue, we have this to say.

‘Come on Mr Umaria: you have the power to help these people’. Do the right thing. Here we have vendors who are working hard to raise their families, send kids to school, and put food on the table. They have made a conscious effort not to ask for welfare handouts – not to beg – and not to walk the criminal road. 

The above examples of markets and stalls are minimal. There are hundreds of good, law-abiding citizens selling their produce on roadsides all around Fiji! We all buy from them and we all take our purchases home and give them a thoroughly good wash. Please don’t try to bamboozle us with unhygienic

We are a developing country – developing – and we should help, and not hinder, the development of our poorer citizens. Help them to help themselves – be proud of their achievements – and get themselves out of the subsistence existence. 

Does it, once again, have to be the Greypower people who stand up and shout ‘Where is the humanity’? Mr Umaria, please stop hindering these people: give them some help.