Taking the middle road to market
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CTA. 2001. Taking the middle road to market . Spore 91. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
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Market facilities Taking the middle road to market How markets perform depends a lot on their facilities. ACP countries have strengthened their efforts in the last decade, but most market facilities are inadequate, or non-existent - particularly in...
Market facilities Taking the middle road to market How markets perform depends a lot on their facilities. ACP countries have strengthened their efforts in the last decade, but most market facilities are inadequate, or non-existent - particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Newly built, reconstructed and deserted, or shambolic, overcrowded and lively, the fit is not yet right. From the hustle of West Africa and the bustle of Sudan, to the revered edifices of Mozambique's Maputo, our lives revolve around markets Photo Mark Edwards/Still Pictures No lighting, no roofs, hardly any water taps, earth access roads this is a typical African urban market. The lack of facilities is similar to the state of the road network (see Spore 77) and leads to similar bottlenecks in movements of people and produce in and around the market. There is a difference, of sorts, in the facilities of official markets and informal ones, but the real difference is really a fiscal one of whether or not transactions are taxed. In organised markets, in principle, the council charges a duty on each stand, varying from 25 to 50 Euro cents, depending on its site, and provides maintenance and cleaning services. In the best cases the market hall is covered, there are storage sheds (in wholesale markets), there is a solid floor, electricity is laid on, there are fixed or mobile stalls, sanitation and water outlets. But that is in the best of cases. When it rains in markets in Senegal, Mozambique or Côte d Ivoire, people squelch around in the mud because there are no drains. In the Xipamanine market in Maputo, capital of Mozambique, the floor is made of trodden earth, and there are no toilets, no running water. And Xipamanine is by no means an exception. People point with pride to its formal area which is partly covered and lit. With inadequate facilities and overcrowded space, traders set up their stands willy-nilly, inside and out. It looks like - no, it is - mayhem: the market is choc-a-bloc with poorly sited traders, illegal vendors moving in and out, with tiny shops, street food stalls and all sorts of repair stands spilling out onto the road outside. Around this formal core, an informal belt of trade settles down in surrounding streets and alleys, as a parallel market with neither facilities nor semblance of organisation. What a picture! Unhygienic and unhealthy conditions, no safety for traders or customers, problems of access, running conflicts about siting stands, endless stand-offs between traders and the local authorities, and vicious competition between illegal and legal traders. Such scenes cause all sorts of problems, and it is no wonder that the last decade has seen a wave of projects to improve and renovate markets in the cities and at border trading zones. Noble intentions In two years time, the fish market of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania will be replaced by a modern one. The plans are for improved hygiene, easier access for boats and better trading conditions for the potential annual catch of 730,000 tonnes of fish. In Burkina Faso moves are underway to expand trading with the renovation of three livestock markets on the borders of Ghana, Côte d Ivoire and Mali. The costs of about 40,000 will be met by the Permanent Interstate Committee for the Control of Drought in the Sahel (CILSS), with support from the UN Common Fund for Commodities. Each of the three markets will handle one to two thousand heads of cattle, brought in by truck. They will be enclosed and have watering and feeding points, proper sanitation, veterinary services, storage areas and accommodation. With these facilities traders will be able to buy and stock animals, keep them healthy and make use of various services including a management facility, provided by a professional association, to help with customs formalities. 'By setting up these points of convergence we want to promote trading, and maximise the interface between importers and exporters', says Dramane Coulibaly, the CILSS officer in charge. 'We also save the Burkinabé herdsmen all the hassles of the customs and transport costs.' In Bamako, Mali, large-scale market halls are under construction. Ultimately they will shelter a trading area of more than 2,000 stands, a wholesale zone with 120 outlets and a fresh food market of 3,000 stalls with fish, meat and cold stores. The city council has a set of four objectives in this project: eliminate the nuisances of the enormous souk market, which is an eyesore in the capital, where no market has been built since independence; create a trading area which will help to generate business and jobs; get a grip on and increase its tax revenues; and, by providing good working conditions for traders, help them to increase their productivity. Ambitious intentions The question is, exactly what traders are being enticed to such markets? Only those who can afford to pay taxes, the costs of maintenance, entrance fee and investment, and to rent or buy a stand or lock-up. In Bamako, for a plot of 3 square metres, the bottom line is about 1,100. In Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, the city council had similar plans to renovate the central market. It would have met the demands of both customers and traders for notable improvements in hygiene and security. The council wanted to put a proper organisation into place to run the market and manage the facilities, instead of the free-for-all that had established itself with uncontrolled transfers of rights, sub-letting, buyouts and bribes. As a result, Bobo s market is the largest in all Burkina Faso, stretching over six asphalted hectares, with four distinct trading zones. It houses 5,000 plots, 4 water outlets for traders and 4 more for butchers, two toilet facilities in each zone and a telecentre. The project cost around 750,000 and was co-financed 70% by the French development cooperation agency and by the traders themselves. The cost of the entrance fee fluctuates between h 350 for a shop of 4 square metres in a trading zone to around 2,450 for a 9 square metre shop on the outside. Buyers get a renewable deed of co-ownership for 25 years. And who are the buyers? The vast majority are small and medium-scale traders who were already located in the formal part of the old market, and they live in Bobo. The other traders from the old market, too poor to buy into the new one, have obviously melted away and joined the throngs of informal and rejected vendors. The numbers of rejected vendors is growing. In Mozambique, the mayor of Maputo was quoted in a national paper as saying 'we have to find a way of dealing with this problem of informal traders; it has become a real thorn in my side (uma pedra no sapato)'. Thousands of individual traders are all vying for space in the Maputo market, whilst thousands of others, legal ones this time, are having to be moved to make way for the construction of a shopping centre and the renovation of Xipamanine. The latter currently houses 1,180 traders in its formal area, with the same number of occasional vendors outside. The renovation project is being co-financed by the French development agency; designed by the Bergman Incgérop group, the building is planned to have two storeys. Officially there will not be any space for an informal section any more. A council working group is assessing the impact of the project. Isaac Ambasse, the traders representative, is concerned that the same thing will happen as with the renovation of an apartment block. 'They tell the occupants that they will be rehoused, but then they find out that the rents are too high!'. As a result, a campaign has been launched to explain to some traders that they will not be housed in the new market. The director of markets and fairs in the council, Orlanda Fonseca, confirms this: 'it will not be possible to include the thousands of informal vendors in the new market; they do not have the resources.' A virtuous circle There are two major inputs can be used to arrive at a happy medium between overpriced and Photo Bernard Favre inadequate facilities are the funds of the traders, and the costs of construction and operation, without hurting either traders or consumers. In Senegal the louma (market) in Passy is sited at a geographical crossroads, between several large towns, and close to The Gambia. It is of a manageable size, and being a good meeting place for Gambian and Senegalese traders, it is a well frequented weekly market. It provides the town council of Passy with most of its tax revenues and these have been gradually re-invested in building covered areas of stalls which will form a belt around the market halls used by traders of second-hand clothes and vegetables. These areas have been built with the assistance of the council development agency (ADM) which is well-attuned to local needs and realities. The operating costs, which are essentially for lighting, are paid for in barter. The council thus does not suffer from the same problems of collection which other local authorities have with their tenants. And more and more traders are hoping for a place in the market. Already all the traders who had to leave to make way for the construction works have been rehoused, and there is still space for more. As the saying goes, why make a song and dance about it, when the solution is so obvious?
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