Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade, Jotham Napat, was highly impressed with what he heard and saw on his tour of the new Fish Market Facility opposite Au Bon Marche at Manples last Friday, and looks forward to its opening on August 16.
As Trade Minister he also hinted a caution to ensure that it does not repeat the former failed management of once Natai Fish Market due to political interference.
The DPM stressed the importance of offering attractive incentives to cooperatives fishermen to sell their catch through the financial arm of the Department of Cooperatives – Vanuatu Cooperatives Business Network (VCBN).
The objective of the Fish Market is to ensure constant supplies of fresh fish and fish products at affordable costs to everybody including ‘20 vatu vendors’, compared to the current prices of fish and fish products in current outlets.
The DPM’s tour began at the steel counter at the back at the arrival of fish through the entire food standard processes to the cold rooms as well as the cold display glass containers for the public to buy their fish at the front. The entire facility is air conditioned.
Once called the ‘New Hebrides Cooperatives Federation’ or ‘Federesen’ in Bislama, the current Fish Market is built immediately behind the original Federesen headquarters which still stands today as a warehouse.
The ‘Federesen’ used to own the New Hebrides Cooperatives Savings Bank and an inter-island cargo ship called ‘Semle Federesen’ which purchased copra from the islands and agricultural produce mostly from Tanna for sale in its facility in Port Vila.
The ship also operated a whole sale store onboard from which cooperatives ordered their cargoes.
The other historical building of great importance at the time which still stands today next to the northern wall was called the ‘Federesen’ Night Club which operated every Friday night where the first hand full of university students as well as secondary school leavers came together to socialize, as well as fundraise through West Papua’s Black Brothers live performances towards the political programme of the New Hebrides National Party.
The site of the present day Fish Market therefore is of historical importance to the political development of the country.
In a media interview with this reporter, VCBN General Manager Jack Loughman said the vision of the Network is also to facilitate the dream of the leaders of the independence struggle towards pursuing food security and achieving economic self-reliance for the nation.