by Serah Aupong – EM TV, Madang
Madang town authorities are confident that the upgrade of the main town market will be completed by the end of this year.
The project includes the upgrade of the town vegetable market and the construction of a fish market.
Officials are confident that despite the slow start, the market will be in use by early next year.
Once completed, the market will be seen as one unit, with the fish market an extension of the vegetable market. It is the second market upgrade in the country the National Fisheries Authority is involved in, after the Wewak town market.
The fish market will come complete with storage facilities to help fish sellers keep their produce fresh.
Madang Governor Jim Kas told EM TV that the start of construction of the market took longer than expected, due to land issues.
This was confirmed by Provincial Administrator Daniel Aloi. Both men are confident that this issue, which the provincial administrator said stemmed from a ‘lack of consultation’ with traditional Madang people, has been resolved.
The Madang town market was closed late in 2013 and for over a year, market users had to find alternative venues to sell their produce.
Provincial Administrator Daniel Aloi does not anticipate any other delays.
While the provincial government and administration generally oversee the market upgrade, the man who deals with day-to-day progress of this project is the town manager, Lau Sorum.
He says container loads of construction materials will be arriving in the province over the next couple of weeks and the official ground breaking ceremony has been slated for March.
Once the market is completed, it will become the responsibility of the town council and, according to Mr Sorum, that is when the real challenge will begin.
“Depending on our performance in the construction phase and in maintaining the facilities afterwards, this program will then be rolled out in other coastal towns in the country.”
For market users, especially women, they would like the market to be in use as soon as possible, because of the daily challenges they face.
Martha Maneu, who comes from Baitata community outside of Madang town, says the main town market was conducive to their needs because of the location. In town, the location allows them to easily buy household goods and get on a PMV to head home.
Their current market venue, Mildas Market, located just behind the provincial government building, makes these things quite difficult. Tina Vania, a long-time vendor at Milda’s Market, says security is a huge issue at the market and needs to be addressed.
Other women who sell handicrafts say they cannot wait for the new market to open because they are not able to sell their wares properly in this alternative venue. There is no sufficient shelter and the location is not secure enough for people to browse through their items.