Running at a loss for want of customers
By H.M.Dharmapala and Kusal Chamath
Dehiwala public market which had been the hub of trade activities had now turned into an eyesore in the town with it dilapidated building due to neglect of maintenance. Residents of the area expresses concern about the sad state of the public market that in the past provided marketing facilities to a vast population in Dehiwala and its environs.
Traders said they were running at a loss for want of customers as in the past and that the dilapidated condition of the building and the shortage of facilities including parking space had resulted in this state. They pointed out that the widening or road reduced the land area of the market creating hardship to the customers for want of parking space. They accused the authorities of giving false promises to provide parking space and leaving them on the lurch.
A trader on anonymity said that hundreds of traders who had been running business for moe than 40 years were now in a predicament. He said the Municipal Council levied heavy taxes despite the losses incurred to them.
“In the past the public market was busy with trade activities till about midnight. Today, due to the mushrooming of supermarkets the public market has gone in a decline. The Municipal Council that levied taxes from us turned a deaf ear to our continual representations to uplift the standard of the public market in keeping with the super markets. A new outlook should be given to attract the customers, or else we are not able to compete with the supermarkets. The customers who park their vehicles by the road side are liable to heavy fines. Several traders have abandoned their stalls and earns a pittance as pavement hawkers to maintain their families” He said
Another trader said the authorities who demolished a part of the building and removed the traders promised to provide them stalls in the proposed upper storey. She said the construction works of the upper storey had been abandoned for years by the contractors but any action has not yet taken to complete it and to take action against those responsible for the colossal waste of public funds.
“Now we run business in the pavement amid hardship. The police often carry out raids and destroy out temporary stalls. Several stalls in the upper storey have been completed but they are not issued to the traders. As we understand the leasing of stalls would go by political favour.” She said.
The traders requested to uplift the public market to the standard of a super market and to lease the stalls only to those deserving.