Repair works were undertaken at the market complex during the break, and stringent measures have been insisted upon to prevent another outbreak of the pandemic. To prevent crowding, individual customers would not be allowed entry – the minimum purchase quantum has been fixed at 50 kg. The guidelines and restrictions, meanwhile, have evoked mixed reactions from the vendors.
During the period when the vegetable market was shifted to Tirumazhisai after the closure of the complex on May 5, works including raising platforms, fresh coat of paint for the stores, redoing the drainage system, repairing bathrooms and re-laying roads were completed.
According to GD Rajasekaran, president, Koyambedu Periya Market Association, around 2,000 vendors are to return to the market. They have been asked to keep infrared thermometers, sanitisers and pulse oximeters to maintain safety within their own shops and for customers as well.
“The market will be open only for those buying over 50 kg of produce. There will be no sales for any quantity less than that. Only those buying wholesale will be allowed entry, and they will have to get their temperatures and oxygen levels checked at the gate. All market personnel like shop owners, staff and truck drivers will be given passes that they must show to be allowed inside,” he said.
As decided by the CMDA, the market would be closed every Friday for cleaning and sanitising. The market timings, too, have changed, with sales open from 1 am to 9 am. “Although we operated from 1 am to 1 pm earlier, we will close operations early henceforth. All sales will stop at 1 pm, although there will be entry in the evenings for stock and accounts purposes,” said P Sukumaran, treasurer, Koyambedu Wholesale Market Merchants’ Association.
A health camp would be set up within the market, where temperature and oxygen level could be checked. There would also be arrangements to take any person to hospital. Around 80 CCTV cameras have been set up to monitor crowds.
Vendor reaction to the move is mixed. Many are happy to return to Koyambedu market complex after suffering loss while they were at the temporary facility at Tirumazhisai. “Number of stores there were restricted. Also, the market would get flooded during the rains. Many of us lost a lot of supply due to the rains or the heat due to lack of proper facilities. The Koyambedu market complex is centrally located, so we are expecting business to increase,” said a vendor.
However, some are worried about meeting rental cost at Koyambedu. “With sales being affected as it was in the past few months, I might not be able to afford the rent and staff salary as well. Returning will put me in debt, but the current dilemma I face is that demand is also low, and returning to Koyambedu might solve that. It is a difficult situation, and I don’t know if business can thrive amid such stringent conditions,” said Babu, a vendor.