Christina Maneni, a rural market vendor from Salisapa village in Small Ngella.
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RURAL market vendors in Ngella, Central Island Province, have faced challenges of transportation and accommodation while conducting business at Honiara’s Central Market facility over the past decades.

Christina Maneni, a rural market vendor from Salisapa village in Small Ngella, told SOLOMON WOMEN that such a challenge has caused a lot of difficulties for them to conduct their business effectively.

She argued that many vendors who travel from Ngella to sell their consumable produce at the market are finding it increasingly difficult due to a lack of overnight accommodations.

“One of the main challenges we face when coming over to Honiara is not having a place to stay overnight whilst doing our marketing in town. For most of us, it takes 2-3 days or even a week to sell our products before heading back home,” Christina said. “The issue of transportation and accommodation has affected vendors from Ngella Islands for a long time and has never been addressed.”

She mentioned that living with relatives in town is their only option, but the high living costs present additional burdens.

“There are relatives in town, but living with relatives is not that good because it is like giving extra burden to them because we understand that in town, the high cost of living is another issue itself,” the vendor said.

Christina admitted that another challenge faced by vendors was securing space for their products at Honiara Central Market during early morning boat trips.

“Most of the vendors often arrive late, causing us to sit on the market floor with our products. This is a big challenge having to travel a long way to sit uncomfortably on the floor with mostly cooked foods,” she said.

Christina said that the only means of transportation available to vendors are passenger boats, which presents a hurdle.

“There are times when we are not able to bring all the market products on board because of the many passengers and cargoes. This caused vendors’ products to be left back home, and only some were able to be carried to town. This situation causes unhappiness to the vendors because leaving behind some of our products that we have worked tirelessly to prepare means earning little money, money not enough to cover all our expenses, such as the boat fare, which is $100, boat freight, and market fees.

“For us vendors, this is a great challenge. We are parents who are also struggling to earn enough to meet our family’s needs and wants. For some of us, this is the only way we earn.

“With this concern, we are calling on our new Ngella constituency leader after the national election to hear our cry and see the struggles that we go through each day. We are asking for a transport, such as a ship or a bigger boat that will transport only vendors from Ngella to Honiara each day with our products to market. We also ask our good leaders to provide accommodations for us vendors to use while marketing in town,” Christina said.

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