Insalubrity: Fifadji’s market in its rubbish

Lots of rubbish on both sides, a swarm of flies, puddles of waste water in the alleys, bags and leftovers of food thrown on the ground, these are some of the characteristics of the Fifadji market, located in the 9th district of Cotonou.

The spectacle of uncleanliness in Benin’s public procurement markets is a matter of concern to many. The Fifadji market, which is part of the city’s secondary markets, is not spared. Inside this market, the observation does not suggest that this public place is a supply centre where people market food of all kinds. The unhealthy state of the Fifadji market is believed to be the result of poor management of spatial sanitation. Both sellers and users throw rubbish from purchased products or goods into the street. The gutter pits that separate the market from the road are, according to salesmen, the only dump site for wastewater disposal. Some have bins installed a few meters from the stalls, and emptied periodically.

According to ABOU Safiatou, the Fifadji market manager, the market uses the services of some collection NGOs. “We pay a collection NGO 15,000 francs a week to empty the bins of market traders,” explained the manager, who is also a saleswoman. “Not having a channel to discharge the waste water, we simply pour it into the gutters that city officials often empty,” she added.

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“The cleanliness of the market depends on the sellers.”

Sometimes, the saleswomen of this place of commerce are forced to throw away the waste themselves, when the collectors do not pass in time. The garbage is then thrown away by the lakeside at few hundred meters behind the market. In rainy weather, the spectacle is even more distressing. According to one vegetable seller, the issue of maintaining this market is a subject that deserves the attention of market occupants. “As the market comes to life, we are polluting the environment. Today I had to get rid of the stacked garbage that was already infesting the atmosphere by itself,” explained Monique BLE, the vegetable seller. According to the latter, the indifference of some saleswomen leaves something to be desired. “How can we explain the fact that a fish seller pours wastewater in front of her own display, knowing that it can attract flies, thus polluting her merchandise,” she deplored before adding: “The cleanliness of this market depends only on us, each person must be involved in the care of his entourage.”

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Despite the disturbing observation of the unsanitary state of the market, the public procurement department of the Cotonou City Hall has refrained from expressing an opinion on the policies to clean up secondary markets. In addition to waste management, the market manager organizes health campaigns to clean up the market. “All the saleswomen gather on a few Saturdays to sweep the space from the market to the pavement level, because no authority will do it for us,” said Euphrasie ATINDEHOU, a mat saleswoman in Fifadji market.

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