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Vendors at Friday Market hurting over prolonged closure

KUWAIT: This July 9, 2020 file photo shows a gate at the Friday Market closed with red tape shortly after the market was reopened briefly for the first time since March 13. – Photo by Fouad Al-Shaikh

By Ben Garcia

KUWAIT: Almost six months without work in both his regular job as a tea boy at the Ministries Complex and his part-time job selling secondhand clothing and other items at the Friday Market, Sikandar from Bangladesh is broke. Other resellers, retailers and vendors at the Friday Market are also disappointed over the prolonged closure.

“I thought of going back to my country, but my boss told me to stay because I can start work at the ministry from September 1. So now I am waiting – the only hope was for the Friday Market to reopen. They said next week we can open, but nothing happened – we are waiting to reopen for a long time now,” said Sikandar. “I am doing this so I can save money and finally go home to Bangladesh.”

Sikandar’s ministry job provides him a regular salary of KD 80. “That is not enough for my family, so after work I do odd jobs like cleaning the offices of a clinic. But my big source of income is from my four days of work at the Friday Market. However for five months now, the money I was earning selling stuff at the Friday Market is gone. I was making at least KD 200-250 a month,” he added.

On March 13, the Municipality closed the Friday Market as a precautionary measure to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The brief reopening of the market on July 9 saw a huge crowd of people visiting the market, prompting municipal officials to close it on the same day. Until now, the Friday Market is closed, awaiting a green signal from the Municipality to reopen.

Nida, another Friday Market vendor, misses selling items at the market. “I normally occupy a small spot in block 9, 10 or 11. I used to bring my products every Wednesday evening in preparation for the Thursday opening. Anyone can get a permit to sell – you only have to get a permit from the office inside the Friday Market. They’ll ask you what items you are selling, and if they think it’s okay, they’ll give you a permit,” she said.

“I sell small items and old clothes of any type, shoes, bags, etc. If I have many products, I share it with people inside. I sell in wholesale – for example a bundle of used clothes for KD 5, which will be retailed for 250 fils. Sometimes the KD 5 will realize KD 15 or KD 20 depending on how good the items are.

I pay only KD 21 in rental charges for three days. But this is no longer possible because of COVID-19, and we are not selling since March,” Nida said. “I hope they’ll allow us to sell again. Life is becoming very difficult for everyone, so secondhand and cheap prices at the Friday Market can help, plus sellers can earn something too.”

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