Since I seem to be lambasting politicians and bureaucrats all the time, permit me to illustrate the sort of situation I come across almost without exception in markets.
In other words, what you’re about to read is not the exception – it’s more the rule. I won’t mention the name of the market, but it’s one of our smaller municipal markets which is struggling to survive. Drive into the market and you’ll see rubbish lying all over the place and the buildings desperately need cleaning. There’s also no cafeteria to be found on most markets. Need an early morning cup of hot coffee in midwinter?
Too bad! You won’t get it here! When it rains, sections of the roof leak so badly, market agents have to move stock. And the sales hall resembles one of those abandoned factories where the baddies hide away in movies. Food safety and hygiene? What are those?
The atmosphere is depressing and this is reflected by the people working there and even those few who come to buy. They seem to be so wrapped up in their own problems they’re unable to see the bigger picture – not that the current big picture is worth seeing. One gets the feeling they’re trapped in a world of inertia, unable to escape.
Even though small, this used to be a thriving market. The older generation on the market floor talk of queues of buyers and truckloads of fresh produce moving in and out. But the municipality, which owns the market, has consistently ignored this valuable facility over the years.
It’s now in complete disarray and this handy ‘cash cow’ they’ve been abusing is in real danger of total collapse. In allowing the market to deteriorate so badly the municipality has shirked its responsibility to the community, as well as the farmers of South Africa.
But there’s also good news. A task team sent in by the Institute of Market Agents of South Africa has managed to engage all the stakeholders, including senior members of municipal management, to take a hard look at the market and hopefully do something about its problems. Response has been positive on all sides and if they do find a way forward, it will be a tremendous boost not only for that market but for fresh produce markets in general.
All it needs is commitment!
Contact Mike Cordes at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please state ‘Market floor’ in the subject line of your email.
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