THE Lautoka City Council says 470 market vendors who brave the harsh sunlight and rain to support their families will benefit from a project that will shelter them from the elements, along with a policy to replant trees cut in the Sugar City.
"The wellbeing of market vendors is our priority because they sit for hours in the sun and seek shelter under makeshift tarpaulin shelters when it rains," said special administrator Praveen Bala.
"There has been no decision made about the future of trees around the project area. Lautoka has the largest number of open spaces and trees and the council also has a replanting policy, two trees for every tree cut."
A group of people who drink yaqona under the shelter of a sekoula tree in the market area are protesting against the cutting down of the tree.
Lautoka resident Allen Lockington said the tree should not be cut.
"In this time of global warming, we shouldn't be cutting trees in the first place," he said.
"Trees give us shelter and oxygen. They also add beauty to our surroundings."
Mr Lockington said the sekoula trees were a landmark for Lautoka and needed to be kept that way.
"All people from the Colonial Sugar Refinery days remember the trees as they have been around for more than 50 years.
"I understand they want to cut the trees to build a shed for the market vendors, which is a noble idea.
"But I want to ask why the trees should be cut down."
Mr Lockington said they had suggested for the shed to be built around the trees.
"The trees can even be trimmed but not cut.
"There are many instances where schoolchildren come and sit under the trees after school. People come to have a couple of basins of grog after work and relax with friends."