ILLEGAL vegetable vendors are undermining efforts to get the Manama Central Market back on its feet, it was claimed yesterday.
Traders said the situation was so bad that they often had to throw away rotting stock - adding that some had not made a sale in months.
However, one of them said problems have existed for so long that he had stopped asking for help.
"I have been in and out of government offices, met with ministers, councillors and others to highlight our plight but to no avail," Ali Jassim Redha told the GDN.
"The situation is now so bad that I am sometimes not even able to take home the bare minimum every day."
He confirmed businesses had dropped dramatically since last February and said to make matters worse, illegal workers were cashing in by undercutting their prices as they sold fruit and vegetables by the roadside.
"The hundreds of Asians who ply their trade in the streets of Manama and sell at rates much less than we can afford to have also affected us," he said.
"At the market itself, we have to throw away rotting vegetables many times because there are no takers and we have no storage facilities."
Another trader, Abdulla Salman, said many shoppers who did still visit the market complained of the foul stench and poor parking facilities.
"No-one wants to come here if it is avoidable," he said.
"At times, I feel I should shift to another trade just to avoid coming here."
He said some traders had not made a single sale in months.
"These are mainly those who sell packaged foods such as dates," he said.
"They are the worst hit."
Ibrahim Jaffer, who deals in fresh fruits and vegetables, said it was impossible to compete with expatriate workers selling produce at lower prices in the streets of Manama.
"They can afford to have very meagre profits since they have no overheads, but we have to have a minimum margin," he said.
"That makes our prices less competitive."
He revealed those expatriates actually bought fruits and vegetables from the market in bulk, allowing them to snap up goods at wholesale prices and then sell them on for a small profit.
"There is no way we can control that since when we sell in bulk, the rates are different," he explained.
Trader Hussam Mohammed outlined the frustrations of stall holders at the lack of facilities.
"We have worked our lifetime away in stench with a lack of toilets, no proper resting place and broken flooring," he said.
"We would want to spend the rest of our lives in comfort."
He said 10 years ago the conditions were bearable, but not anymore.
"The whole market is crumbling and no repairs are ever undertaken," he explained.
"If the floor breaks, it remains broken and if a fan does not work, it stays that way for months."