Koyambedu Market complex was shut after it emerged a Covid19 cluster on April 27. With the market still closed, the flower vendors continue to struggle to make a living without a proper marketplace to do business.
After the Market complex was shut, the Chennai Metro Development Authority (CMDA) which administers the Asia’s largest market, had shifted vegetable market to Thirumazhisai in Thiruvallur district and fruits market to Madavaram in the city.
But the CMDA has failed to provide proper market space for flower vendors who were earning income selling at the large Koyambedu market for decades
An office bearer with Koyambedu Wholesale Flower Merchants Welfare Association said that they allotted space for just 30 vendors in Madavaram despite 470 flower shops at the market. As a result, the flower vendors started to sell on the streets of Chennai in small vans.
We had requested the government to provide us the open space that lays vacant outside the Koyambedu market complex for business as we required little space to do business compared to vegetable and fruit markets. But none of the government officials have paid heed to our request so far, said a flower vendor.
"Recently, after the traders made a desperate appeal to the owner, the parking space of the Rohini Threatre in Koyambedu opened for at least 22 flower vendors. We have set up the market with our own expense maintaining social distancing and periodic disinfecting activities," said a flower vendor. He also urged the government to take steps to allot a proper marketplace soon.
"Flower market, which used to get at least 30 truckloads of flower in the post-pandemic era, now ended up in just 5-10 lorries- each lorry with five tonnes," the office bearer added.
Radha, who was selling flowers at the Koyambedu market, is now selling flowers in the streets since the Koyambedu market was closed. "I didn’t try to go to Madavaram as it is too far from here. Most of the flower vendors have chosen to sell flowers in the streets along with their children. If we had got a proper market space, we could have earned better," she says.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam last month had announced the setting up of a committee to explore the option on the reopening of Koyambedu market. CMDA officials said that they had given approval to a few vendors to sell flowers at Parry’s Corner. Some of them have also opened markets at Maduravoyal. The flower market was decentralised in order to maintain social distancing’, said officials.