4 May 2013

Farmers in Samoa unhappy with delay of Fugalei market rebuild

7:46 am on 4 May 2013

Many farmers in Samoa are voicing their frustrations about the delayed rebuild of the Fugalei market in Apia, and are calling for consultations after the original plan was dumped.

Just last week temporary space was allocated in town for vendors to sell produce and goods, after the old market building was demolished last year.

Sara Vui-Talitu has more.

Farmers have been selling goods without shelter since the former Fugalei market building was demolished, resulting in the government facing criticisms for tearing down the old market too early.

Original plans for a two storey market have been scrapped in favour of a one storey building

But a spokeman for the opposition Tautua Samoa Party says this has resulted in 1 million US dollars being wasted.

Palusalue Faaopo the II says it shows poor planning.

"I hope that it would be sooner for the farmers to sell their products. So we are pushing the government to start building it now, but they are just going through the tender process again to re-tender the market."

The Accident Compensation Corporation is responsible for the market rebuild.

Its chief executive, Malaeulu Lose Niumata says vendors were advised to sell their produce at a market in Vaitele in the interim.

But he says they have organised for vendors to utilise a portion of the vacant land, where some tents have now been erected.

We opened up part of the site for the market that was previously set up and we've opened it up and we'll be putting in tents until we finish building the market.

The chairman of the Farmer's Association, Afamasaga Toleafoa, says the new space is welcome but he questions why it has taken so long to organise.

He says members aren't impressed.

It's a mess. It's been very difficult for farmers. It's been unhygienic, unhealthy and extremely challenging for people. And also for the buyers because the market used to be very good but we know it needed to be upgraded. I think we should have some consultations with stakeholders.

Malaeulu Niumata says doubts about the top floor being utilised in original plan led to alteration of its design, which is likely to reduce the cost from 13 million to just 4 million US.

Afamasaga Toleafoa says the two level market in Savaii is under utilised, but it might actually have worked better in the capital.

Whether it is two story here in Apia, you have to look at the space. One of the difficulties is that it is a very built up area and hard to expand, and its also a flood prone area and probably needs to go up.

Malaeulu Niumata says keeping an eye on costs is important.

The other concern then we have is that if it is going to be expensive, the construction, then we'd have to charge that to the people. We'll have to spend less money on the construction and at a lesser cost to the people as well and farmers and all that.

Construction of the market is expected to begin around August and completed in 2014.