Nawainovo Vua na Turaga na Tui Nawainovo;
Turaga na Tuikoro;
Na Turaga na iTalatala;
The High Commissioner of India, His Excellency Shri P.S. Karthigeyan;
Members of the Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Bula vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.
Whether you drive on the Queen’s Road, the King’s Road or the Hibiscus Highway, every Fijian knows our roadside vendors and we know how important they are to Fijian life, everywhere in the country. This was brought into sharp focus for many during the pandemic.
Markets and vendor stalls are where Fijians buy their food. They remain vital sources of food and nutrition security, economic activity, and livelihoods that sustain small island economies. When markets and vendors do well, so do our communities.
I want to especially acknowledge here the women farmers and vendors of our country – some 85 per cent of market vendors in Fiji are women; 61 per cent of whom are between 46 and 75 years of age. Additionally, about 50 per cent of Fiji’s market vendors are selling what they produce, meaning they are responsible from sowing the first seeds to harvesting their crops, securing transportation, and then selling their produce.
It is not easy work, but it is critically important work. And it’s why we are here today. It is truly my pleasure to officially handover the new standardised roadside stall to Nananu Village. This new addition to Tailevu has been made possible through my Government’s warm partnership with the Indian Government through the Indian High Commission in Fiji.
This stall enables villagers of Nananu to almost completely cut out the time and costs associated with travel. Instead, you will now be able to sell your produce from directly outside your village. With this comes a greater sense of freedom and access for vendors who may face difficulty with physical mobility or on days they may be too ill to travel. Additionally, apart from keeping more money in your pockets, you now have much more time to work on your farms, and importantly, to spend with your families.
Ladies and Gentlemen, as some of you may know, Government has so far constructed 102 roadside stalls as part of our five-year and twenty-year National Development Plans. Our goal has been to work through a Public–Private Partnership to construct and provide Fijian vendors with high-quality, durable, comfortable working stalls that can simultaneously withstand category 5 tropical cyclones.
As you may have noticed, the design of the roadside stalls is similar to others you see along the highways of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. However, your stalls have been custom- designed to allow for three (3) vendors instead of one, to sell at the same time. This means 257 Nananu vendors can now sell their produce to commuters, sustain a profitable livelihood and not worry about stall payments or rental fees.
I was pleased to hear that 90 women and 44 youth have already confirmed their use of the stalls. I encourage all of you, please do not let this opportunity go to waste; do not let this opportunity to better your families’ lives slip through your fingers.
Ladies and Gentlemen, amid the ongoing climate emergency and our recovery from the COVID pandemic, my Government has made it clear that no Fijian will be left behind. Whether it’s a small vendor’s business or a multi-million-dollar venture; whether it’s a family living in Suva, or one living in a rural maritime island. We are doing whatever it takes to ensure Fijians are protected: from climate-proofing our public infrastructure like bridges, roads and road-side stalls; to bringing TV and radio to every single Fijian for the first time in history, via the Walesi platform; and then disbursing $180 per child for children in families earning less than $50,000 in combined household income.
This is a small fraction of the policies we shape and implement, because just as we always have, we continue to remain focused on the complete well-being of the Fijian people.
Before I conclude, I would like to acknowledge Mr. Viliame Tuca, the Turaga-ni-Koro whom I have entrusted the care and facilitation of this roadside stall to. I know he will ensure the maintenance and proper upkeep of this important facility.
Thank you also once again to His Excellency, the High Commissioner of India, for working with Government to make this possible. It is with great pleasure that I now declare the handing over of this new standardised roadside stall that will open for business shortly.