With the vegetable vendors at Centenary Farmers Market relocated to the two Multi-Level Parking Spaces (MLPS) in town, business has been grounded for the vendors. Not a single vendor can be seen in the MLPS premises.
Ninety percent of the vendors are female and since the government asked them to move, keeping the stove burning has been difficult for them.
Sonam Eden, a vendor said she has not been able to do business since last month as the area she got (MLCP) rarely gets visitors. “I am in huge loss as I am not able to operate my business as before,” she said adding that the MLCP has no infrastructure and the area is very compact.
Another vendor, Seday said she has left her vegetable business as of now because the area at MLCP near BOD is very compact and there are no facilities where they can keep and sell their products. “I went to MLCP twice after the distribution of the area but no one visits which is a loss of time and resources for me,” she said adding survival is an issue after the closing of CFM.
They are unsure when they will have to go back to MLCP as the area is being prepared for the facilities needed.
“The vendors have given a list of vegetables left at CFM during the lockdown but we have not received money for those vegetables,” she said adding that all her belongings are lost and she could not retrieve anything from CFM.
She also went to the MLCP to check for other vendors but could not see anyone.“I am at home hoping that CFM will re-open as I won’t be able to survive without my business.”
Another vendor, Tashi Yangzo said she is at home waiting to start business in her designated area at Hejo. She said they have still not been informed and are waiting for a response.
While dividing the area, she said there were six vendors but they were informed that there was space for only four vendors so they were made to wait for space. “It’s been almost three months since I left business and I am living with my parents,” she said.
Dawa Zam said she is not able to do business as she was placed in Jungzhina without any facilities or a quarter to keep her vegetables. She said that her source of income depends on the selling of vegetables but due to the closure of CFM, she has been deprived of a means to livelihood. “I have my children going to college and I borrow money from my friends,” she said.
Monika Adhikari said due to lack of customers at MLCP, she left her business since the lockdown. “I couldn’t sell vegetables even worth Nu 100 a day at MLCP,” she said adding it is a waste of time for her. She said every vendor is affected due to the closure of CFM as the market is lost.
After the government’s sudden move, the People’s Democratic Party had called upon the authorities to re-open CFM saying that the MLCPs are poorly ventilated and not a good option for farmers. The press release from them says that many of the vendors affected are women and their livelihoods have been affected. “If COVID-19 is the reason for the closing of the CFM, MLCP is not the ideal place to substitute for it.” PDP has stated that after the allocation of space to vendors in MLCP where the ventilation is poor, the party is compelled to issue a public stand that the closure of the CFM and its replacement does not serve to fight the pandemic spread.
Tenzin Lhamo from Thimphu