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Night life at the Nausori market

Matilda Simmons
Sunday, August 13, 2017

AS you tuck into your nice warm bed, spare a thought for those hardworking vendors around the country. As Fiji goes through the cold season this month, many brave it to get some needed dollar.

The Sunday Times team recently caught up with several women vendors at the Nausori market on a Friday night as most of them ready themselves for Saturday, one of the busiest days in the town.

Villagers from all over Tailevu, Baulevu, Naitasiri and in between travel down to the Nausori market with their produce as well as wait for farmers who come down to sell their produce.

In a town where up to 60,000 people converge for the odd bargain and sales on a Saturday, which market vendor wouldn't miss the opportunity?

For the vendors it's either sink or swim.

"If you don't book your space ready, then you won't have anywhere to sell your produce," said Emily Nasilisili, a market vendor who travelled from her husband's village, Waitolu in Naitasiri.

The Wainunu, Vanua Levu native huddled close to the other women vendors on the cold concrete where they're about to lie down. It's nearly 11pm. The other men and women were seen readying their produce on the corridor of the market while some were seen preparing their makeshift bed.

"Sometimes we bring cartons from the village otherwise we go to nightclubs in Nausori and ask for unused cartons for us to sleep on," describes market vendor, Vasenai Mokota.

"We come only on Fridays. We leave the village at 8pm and reach here at 10pm."

The Malawai, Gau native had travelled from Matacaucau, Tailevu with fellow villagers and family members. As we chatted, members of her group arrived with empty cartons received from bouncers at the various nightclubs in Nausori.

"It's so cold, but we brave it … because it's just one night we're spending here," Vasenai adds as she prepares her bedding.

The mother of six and her group had brought crabs, coconuts, ota, taro, chillies, and various other vegetables to sell.

"This new market is better, we can sleep along the corridor but the old one was terrible sometimes we would get wet in the rain."

The women vendors say they pay $1.75 for the unmarked "block space" of the market corridor.

Emily Nasilisili who has been vendor for more than 15 years says she pays about $3.75 for three blocks.

"Before we used to come at 3am to the old market when we had a vehicle, now we don't so we have to come quickly to book our space," she said.

"Sometimes when it rains we go to Veivueti (taxi fleet owner) to shelter which is a few metres away, they'd give a house for us to stay in. But since last year, we've just been sleeping here at the new


"The town council has never asked us about what we are facing … only the town mayor who saw what we were going through and had promised that he would look into the issue.

"Now they're telling us to stop bringing cartons but to use tarpaulins. But tarpaulins are too thin and it's cold because of the cement," she said.

The women seem nonchalant about their circumstance. They all want to make an income for their families.

Other than braving the cold night, they have another purpose — to await the arrival of farmers from Baulevu, Muaniweni and other areas of Tailevu. These farmers arrive with their produce from between 2am to 4am. And it's quite a scene.

Dozens of trucks and carriers arrive with tonnes of vegetables and root crops and you could hear the bargains being struck between some of the vendors and the farmers.

The atmosphere is electric. While the rest of the town sleeps, the market comes alive.

"The only hardship here is the shelter and the washrooms are sometimes locked," describes Wati Udite, one of the vendors.

"One day a man had a bad incident so they opened the washroom for disabled persons. But the women's washroom is locked."

The 40-year-old says they hope to have a shelter for themselves.

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