Port Vila Market is expected to return to full operation soon, says Manager Watt

The strike from Market vendors on Monday comes as no surprise, considering the sudden changes in prices and little to no introduction of the scale system.
We understand Mayor Kiel’s frustration but instead of threatening to cancel vendors permits, this should be taken as an opportunity to speak with them and listen to their concerns so that better planning and awareness of this initiative can be made.
Again, these kinds of changes require a clear process and a proper consultation should have been made to all the vendors along with the proper tools and skills to help support them.
We cannot expect our local farmers to immediately adapt to a system that’s based off from a study 2 years ago.
We hope that our Market vendors are provided with a safe space to come to an agreement and overall support each other with this new system.


Vendors from other islands have been requesting space at the Port Vila Market, after a strike that left market tables empty since Monday.

Manager of the Port Vila Market, Sacha Watt, said vendors from Malekula and Tanna have requested not only space but also training on using the scale for sale.

“We accept anyone wanting to sell products at the market. They will follow the normal process of acquiring a space by meeting the VT11, 000 permit and a daily VT400 table fee,” he said.

This was also echoed by the Mayor of Port Vila, Steve Kiel, who described the strike by the vendors as a slap on his face and the residents of Port Vila.

The strike was staged just after the launching of the scale system introduced by the Price Control Unit of Government. The system will initially be piloted at the main market before expanding to other markets.

Mayor Kiel said striking should have been the last option for the vendors who have not followed the process to have their concerns addressed.

He said his council will decide on whether to cancel the permits of those vendors and re-issue with a condition that they follow the scale system.

“We are aware that following the launching, only 50 vendors who attended the training will start using the scale and the new prices. The others will continue using the old prices and will later join the initiative in the transition,” he said.

Acting Price Controller, Serge Salwai, said the new price formula is introduced following a study conducted two years ago and consultation with the Silae Vanua Market Vendors Association taking into account the costs incurred when harvesting and moving their products from the farm to the market like transportation fee, table fee, bus fare, waste, and toilet fees.

“These prices are very fair to the vendors and their consumers. These 50 vendors will be using the price for a month while we will continue to monitor and consult them, and could review the prices,” he said.

“After a month, we will consult all the vendors and some customers on what reviews to make that will not deprive anyone.”

Meanwhile, the majority of the vendors still refused to sell produces yesterday. Only a few turned up. However, Manager Watt said more vendors from Epule are expected to sell their produces today.

The market is expected to return to full operation by the end of this week, he added.