Markets need better management


A RECENT National Research Institute study of four main urban markets in the country points to the need to improve the operations of these vital facilities.
Markets are centres of informal trade that urban and rural households invariably depend on even daily survival. But managing them leaves a lot to be desired.
Some areas found to be inadequate include hygiene, security, convenience to market users and financial management.
The NRI discussion paper is based on findings conducted on four of country’s major markets – Alotau, Kokopo, Lae and Mt Hagen. The report titled Managing marketplaces: Lessons from a comparative study of four markets in Papua New Guinea (NRI Discussion Papger No. 191) by senior research fellow and programme leader, Dr Elizabeth Kopel and former research project officer Lewis Iwong, can help better understand why some markets work well while others do not.
Key findings and recommendations of the study are discussed here briefly.
Given the significant social and economic benefits of markets, there is a strong argument for market policy, planning and implementation to be integrated into mainstream municipal and local government policy and regulatory systems.
The lessons from thefour main markets can help authorities to develop policies and improve administration and management systems of markets which can create an enabling environment. A better understanding of challenges and constraints can inform positive interventions that can improve local markets.
There is also a need for better management and close monitoring of the use of infrastructure and market services including access to water, hygiene and sanitation services which contribute to make facilities and services sustainable.
Sampling of markets and respondents
The selection of markets was purposefully done, given resource constraints and local knowledge. Lae and Mount Hagen, were chosen as these are the biggest markets outside of Port Moresby and are located in the second and third biggest towns in the country. These markets are compared with Kokopo and Alotau as the latter two markets are considered to be better established with adequate infrastructure and services, and are well managed.
The study sample was comprised of eight out of 10 target respondents from the four markets. Three provincial administrators, one LLG representative and four market managers or coordinators were interviewed.
The small sample size is a limitation and the findings of the current study cannot be interpreted as nationally representative of all markets. However, it provides an indication of how markets are managed and the types of issues that exist in other markets.
Policy, regulation and management
Kokopo market is operated under the provincial market authority. The market authority is responsible also for East New Britain’s two other major markets at Rabaul and Kerevat. A career manager appointed by the board oversees recruitment of staff who include an environmental officer responsible for public health, a nutritionist who monitors and ensures the quality of food, an office in charge of law and order and an accounts team for fee collections and record keeping.
The Lae main market owned by the city authority and is managed by a manager appointment by the city authority who recruits other staff.
Alotau market is owned and operated by Huhu LLG under market bylaws.
Mt Hagen the market is owned by the Mt Hagen Rural LLG and the manager is appointed by the market board but at the time of the study there was no board as there was no LLG due to a failed election. The president of Mt Hagen Rural LLG has major influence on market management and the team that works under him. The caretaker manager does not know the number of market workers at each of the three gates.
Infrastructure, services and utilities
All four markets have permanent shelters. Kokopo market has enclosed buildings for cooked food, seafood and meat. Wash facilities are available for market users on user-pay system, toilets and showers. Other services provided at the market include a communal area, bank ATM and agent, cafeteria, advertising billboard and security office.
Lae: Wash services, toilets and bins are provided. However, the market is too crowded and there is limited space to provide additional services (such as is done at Kokopo market).
Alotau (before the opening of the new market): Ther is secure fencing and storage for unsold items in the main office. Limited access to charge phones, water and toilets at nearby informal market, regular waste removal. No additional services at the time of survey but plans were in place for additional services in the new planned market.
Mt Hagen market has permanent shelter but insufficient space resulting in vending out in the open or pavements. Currently there is no access to wash services as water was disconnected because of unpaid bills (running into about K6,000 monthly). Toilets are closed due to blockage; electricity disconnected due to unpaid bills. The market manager was not aware of who collects rent from shops outside the market. There is no space for additional services. The market is too crowded and theCaretaker manager mentioned that they needed a second market for wholesale produce.
Management of operations
Kokopo: Supervisors are responsible for day-to-day functions of collecting fees, conducting safety inspections and cleaning. They report to market section managers. Security has been outsourced to a private firm to provide guards. The market is for the sale of fresh food, betel nut and goods that vendors make at home, such as meri blouses, and art and craft. Processed store goods are not sold here. Food sanitation is highly emphasised and vendors are told not to sell food that can be contaminated easily (e.g. ice blocks in cups).
Lae: Supervisors are responsible for operations and daily running of the market. These include functions of cleaning, collection of fees and safety in the premises. Security guards are employed by Lae City Authority. When incidents of violence occur at the market, security intervene and sort these out. Serious cases are referred to the police. Goods not allowed to be sold in the market include: Imported vegetables; store goods, manufactured items.
Alotau: A management committee appoints an operations team who are responsible for daily functions of collection of fees, conducting safety inspections and cleaning. Violence is not a major issue in the market. Management intervenes and deals with minor incidents as needed. Food market is only for sale of food. Manufactured goods are sold in the informal markets. Obviously betel nut issues of spitting and litter that are distinctively widespread in the highlands and Port Moresby are absent in Alotau.
Mt Hagen: Supervisors report to the market manager. Market supervisors are in charge of operations, responsible for day to day running of the market.
Vendors pay carriers to remove decomposable rubbish. Cleaners are responsible for inside of the market. Surrounding area outside the market is where all the waste is deposited in huge piles awaiting removal. Market management and the urban authority do not agree on whose responsibility it is to remove waste accumulating outside the market. Incidents of violence and pick-pocketing are common and occur daily.
Revenue generation and usage
Kokopo: Rate of market fees stipulated in ENB Market Authority Act. Management applies the set rates (gate fees, fines, services and kiosk rentals).
How is the revenue used? Since creation of the ENB Market Development Authority, the market has been self-sustaining. Market revenue is used to finance operations and pay employee wages.
Ongoing maintenance, security and upkeep of the market is also done with market revenue.
Lae: The city council sets fees. Daily takings amount to about K6,000. Funds are deposited to the trust account of Lae Urban LLG. It is a new trust account created recently (three months) and all market revenue is deposited into that account. Revenue is collected by Guard Dog Security and deposited to the trust account at the end of each day and the deposit slip is given to Lae Urban LLG revenue section.
How is the revenue used? Lae City Council uses it to pay for ongoing expenses; wages for workers; payment of utility bills, maintenance work and other social services.
Alotau (temporary market pending construction of new market): Vendors pay set market fees daily revenue has amounted to almost K2,000.
Daily takings are recorded and submitted with ticket butts to accounts by supervisor for banking. Management reports to LLG monthly. The operations team have IDs and uniform.
The new market that is planned to be built is to be maintained by the LLG and will have a reserve account to cater for maintenance needs.
How is the revenue used? Alotau Urban LGprovides services but revenue goes to Huhu LLG. Conflict: Urban authority feels that they should get some of the revenue. LLG uses market revenue to pay employees, costs of operation, sponsor local projects and delivery of local services and programs such as health and education.
Mt Hagen: Gate fees have been set but their application is not consistent. Charges vary depending on produce type and quantity. Higher value fresh produce fetch higher earnings like pineapple, cooking banana or peanuts are charged more than low value goods. Water and toilets were free when services were available, but people were careless with usage. Electricity is not available for vendors. Storage: No proper storage space. Vendors make individual arrangements with workmen on night duty and store goods at their own risk.
Conflict: Hagen Rural LLG as market owner keeps the revenue whereas services are provided by Hagen Urban LLG, who feel that revenue should be shared.
There has been a relentless disagreement between the two authorities over who should be responsible for waste removal services. Waste outside the market is often not picked up by town waste removal trucks, leaving piles of organic and general waste to accumulate, leading Hagen to be known as a dirty market.
Possible strategies to improve markets include collaborative action to address real or potential conflict over the distribution of market revenue. In areas where markets are owned by rural LLGs in urban settings that are serviced by urban authorities such as Mount Hagen and Alotau, conflicts and disagreements emerge over the sharing of revenue and the responsibility for provision of services.
Provincial and LLG authorities need to work collaboratively the details of revenue-sharing arrangements and also establish clear roles and responsibilities of respective stakeholders in implementing market functions.