Many of us can testify to endless efforts to arrange meetings with municipal bigwigs – all to no avail. The best we could achieve on rare occasions would be an appointment, only to have it cancelled by the same bigwigs at the last minute. However, the Pietermaritzburg market agents seem to have achieved the ‘almost impossible’. They recently held a meeting with the new city manager and his chief financial officer (CFO) at the market. To the uninformed, this might sound quite normal, but I can assure you, in the context of fresh produce markets, it’s a rare occurrence.
Is this another case of the proverbial new broom sweeping clean? But as long as things get done, who cares who’s sweeping what? And we’re all holding thumbs. But my euphoria doesn’t end there. Apparently after meeting in the market boardroom, they all did a walkabout of the market and its facilities to ‘see for themselves’. I’m told the city manager was issuing instructions to the CFO to have this done, and that repaired, at a rate which must have had the latter’s head spinning.
My enthusiasm should also be seen in the context of my association with the Pietermaritzburg Market, which goes back to the late 1970s, when I was its marketing officer. And, as I’ve said, it’s early days yet, but let’s hope all those instructions materialise into solid repairs and improvements on a market desperately in need of upliftment.
At the same time, the market agents should not sit back now. They must try to maintain contact with their newfound ally and provide positive inputs wherever needed. I’ve no doubt market manager Dr Julie Dyer will give whatever support she can.
The lesson for other municipalities is that this is how things should be done.
The owners of the market – the municipality – should be taking an active role in addressing the needs of a valuable asset.
What so many municipalities don’t seem to grasp is that they’re the custodians of a vital public facility, which is the only real source of value-for-money fresh produce for the nation. Our people need affordable fresh produce and a commission market is the best way to achieve this.
Contact Mike Cordes at f[email protected]. Please state ‘Market floor’ in the subject line of your email.