Frustrations over the new registration system this week posed a threat to the operation of Port Vila’s main market.
Police say some affected individuals disagreed with the proposed system, under which all vendors must give a Vt10,000 annual fee to the Port Vila Municipal Council (PVMC) in order to own a table.
They went to the market with the intention to disturb market operations but police took control and eased the situation.
Last year, vendors at the market in town went on strike to show their anger against the system due to lack of consultation.
Following the recent disturbance, police have increased presence at the market house to calm fear among vendors while the Acting Commander South, Jackson Noel, held discussions with the National Farmers’ Association (VNFA), to have a better grasp of the situation.
President of the National Farmers Association, Philip Isack, stressed concerns about vendors being double charged with the Vt10,000 annual fee.
Isack said: “We are parents and are also struggling to meet tuition fees for our children. We must pay Vt350 every day and now another Vt10,000 fee.
“Some of us are seasonal farmers and space at the market is limited.
“In addition, existing fees have also increased. For example, those selling fish are now required to pay Vt500 for a small container and Vt1,000 for a big container.
“The same applies to those coming with flowers in containers.
“Now vendors are paying Vt50 every time they use the toilet, whereas in the past they only pay once”.
The VNFA is calling onto the council for further consultation to shed light on their concerns.
A spokesperson from the council could not comment because he was busy.
However, the Daily Post understands the registration fee replaces the council’s Vt8,500 permit fee and compliments the beautification project with aims to improve the market for aesthetic reasons, contributes to the city’s national and international image.
Representatives from the council and Internal Affairs say it will free up the market from congestion.
It will also phase out anything at the market that is not locally produced such as plastics and give a fair opportunity for selling where all vendors will be accommodate inside the market.
Since its establishment, there had never been any rules and regulations applied at the main market and there is need for improvement, said authorities.
The Port Vila market has been operating independently from PVMC since 2015 under the council’s new structure to save itself from financial crisis.
As the business arm of the council, the market makes around Vt3 million every month.
Manager of the Market, Theophile Massing, revealed that nearly 200 vendors have registered under the new registration system so far.