19 Jan 2016

Samoa market fire likely to impact grassroots businesses

9:43 am on 19 January 2016

The Samoa Association of Manufacturers and Exporters says the the Savalalo flea market has been the centre of Samoan made goods, and its loss will have a huge impact on grassroots businesses.

Fire at Savalalo

Fire at Savalalo Photo: RNZI / Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

The popular destination for people to buy handicrafts, garments and food, was completely gutted by a blaze on Saturday.

The president of the Samoa Association of Manufacturers and Exporters, Tagaloa Eddie Wilson, says it's likely many of the stall owners will have lost all their stock in the fire.

He says the loss is significant, as it was a hub for grassroots level businesses and locally made items.

"Both ornaments, handicrafts, garments, and everything that is made locally, it's the major outlet where they are sold and traded and one that a lot of our people, small and upcoming businesses that's how they start and where they establish their businesses."

Tagaloa Eddie Wilson says they have about ten members affected by the fire, who are larger business owners, and are likely to have insurance.

He says unfortunately this is probably not the case for smaller business owners.

The Trade Commissioner for Samoa in New Zealand says the Savalalo market is a landmark for the Samoan people, and its loss will be damaging to the national psyche.

Fonoti Dr Lafitai lupati Fuatai says the fire is a big blow for the families who rely on the market for their livelihoods.

He says the loss will also be felt by the many people who frequented the market.

"People identify with it in terms of what they buy from there. Every time I go to Samoa, that's the first place I go to when I want to buy t-shirts or lavalavas, or Samoan cricket balls, or fans, you know any other stuff that's cultural in nature. It's going to be a huge loss in terms of people identifying with a place that's been around for a long time."

Fonoti says people from all over Upolu congregate around Savalalo market, as that is where the main bus stops are situated, and people will probably feel at a loss when they look at the devastation.

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Photo: RNZI / Koro Vaka'uta

Samoa prime minister calls for investigation into market fires

Samoa's prime minister has called for a full investigation into the cause of a fire.

Around 300 small business operators who operated at the Savalalo Market are believed to be seeking help after the fire on Saturday destroyed their businesses.

Market stallholders met on Monday morning to discuss their future, and our correspondent says many of them were uninsured.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi says many families have been affected by the fire and his government is looking at ways to help them recover.

He has asked key government officials and agnecies to report back on what caused the fire and way the government can help those who have been affected