Central Market Facilities Declared Open

Port Vila, Vanuatu (July 22, 2020) – The Vanuatu and Australian Governments today celebrated the official opening of the Port Vila Central Market facilities upgrade.  

The upgrade, which began in July 2019 was funded by the Australian Government through the Tropical Cyclone Pam Recovery Program and the UN Women Markets for Change (M4C) Project, valued at 170 million Vatu (1.47million USD). 

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Affairs, the Honourable Alatoi Ishmael Kalsakau, said: “Today we celebrate our treasured Central Market House, the heart of Port Vila. We are delighted to share the new facilities with our vendors, family and friends, and hopefully tourists in the coming months.” 

The improvements to the market house have included demolishing the existing toilets and decommissioning the septic tank system, replaced by a new toilet and shower block, new offices for market house administration and meeting room for the Silae Vanua Market Vendors Association (SVMVA). There has also been the installation of a wastewater treatment plant, which will ensure that polluted water will no longer leak into the harbour.  

“Australia was pleased to work with the Vanuatu Government through the Public Works Department, the Port Vila City Council, and UN Women to provide an upgraded market to the people of Port Vila. The work has improved conditions for vendors and staff, many of whom are women,” said Australia’s High Commissioner to Vanuatu, Her Excellency Sarah deZoeten.

“The newly upgraded marketplace completes a series of 397 buildings that have been built or renovated through the Australia-Vanuatu Tropical Cyclone Pam Recovery Program. We are very proud that local companies were contracted to construct these buildings. This was a huge undertaking, providing income and skills to hundreds of Ni-Vanuatu,” deZoeten continued. 

Australian High Commissioner, H.E Sara deZoeten and paramount Chief of Ifira, Chief Teriki Nabaonimanu Mantoi Kalsakau III jointly unveiled the plaque at the new market. Photo: UN Women/Trisha Toangwera

A new covered café area and restaurant bays were also constructed, including one sink for every two cooking vendors. The Port Vila City Council (PVCC) funded improvements to the drainage at the front entry to the market, as well as strengthening of the roof above the restaurant area and replacement of the roof above the existing toilet area. The market house was also cleaned and repainted. 

“UN Women is pleased to have been a partner in this important project. Including the women market vendors in the design process has led to improvements that will benefit all vendors, providing a safer, more resilient, accessible and hygienic market environment,” said Sandra Bernklau, UN Women Fiji MCO Representative.   

Market vendors serving food at the market. Photo: UN Women/Trisha Toangwera

The project was implemented by the Architects Section of the Public Works Department, in partnership with the Department of Local Authorities and PVCC.  

“I am proud of how Public Works staff have engaged and worked with the Port Vila City Council, donors, vendors associations, designers and contractor to forge a team to successfully deliver this project,” said Acting Director of Public Works, Mr. Junior Shim George.  

“The project has immeasurable benefit in providing much better facilities for the market users, as well as improved environmental outcomes into the future.”  

Public Works will continue to support PVCC to operate and maintain the wastewater treatment plant for 12 months, ensuring that the systems continue to operate as intended and paving the way for long-lasting benefits.  

Building contractor Franconieri & Son Construction has been commended for its high standard of work, carried out by their team of 45 workers, all Ni-Vanuatu. The project also benefitted from technical design input from Mainguy Consulting Engineers.  

President of the Silae Vanua Market Vendors Association, Ms. Rachel Merang, said, “We are very grateful to our donors for supporting us and our livelihoods. We look forward to sharing these new and improved facilities with the wider community.” 

During the ceremony, the Market House was officially given the custom name of Tamaso Fare Sara Akai by Paramount Chief of Ifira Teriki Mantoi Kalsakau Paunimanu III.  

The Port Vila Central Market upgrade is a project under the Australian Government-funded Tropical Cyclone Pam Recovery Program. The project has received some additional funding from UN Women Fiji Multi-Country office through its Markets for Change (M4C) Project, and from the Port Vila City Council. UN Women M4C project is principally funded by the Australian Government, with support from the Government of Canada since 2018. UNDP is an implementing partner of M4C Project. 

The opening is a part of Vanuatu’s 40th anniversary of independence celebrations.