Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) was yesterday confronted by a vendor protesting the planned renovation of the Taipei Fruits, Vegetables and Fish Wholesale Market.
Ko went to the market at about 4am to ask supervisors of fruit, vegetable and fish vendors’ associations about their needs during the transition period, which is expected to take seven years.
Ko was greeted warmly at the market, where some vendors tried to shake his hand, while others asked to have their pictures taken with the mayor.
However, a fish vendor confronted Ko about the renovation project.
“If the project goes [ahead as planned], we will not be able to make a living any longer,” the vendor said. “We have to move out of the market when it is being renovated, but it would take about 10 years for the renovation project to be completed,” he said.
Taipei Deputy Mayor Chen Chin-jun (陳景峻) tried to calm the man, while Ko walked away after stopping only briefly to listen to the vendor.
“The market was built in 1975 and has been in use for more than 40 years, so it must be renovated, but how business should continue during the construction period needs to be seriously discussed with everyone,” Ko later told the vendors.
During a discussion session with the association supervisors, Ko said the project had been stalled for 20 years because there had been several difficulties during negotiations, but the Taipei City Council has finally approved a NT$14 billion (US$463 million) budget for the project.
The city can help negotiate between people with different views, but the goal is to carry it out as soon as possible, he said.
The city has also approved a budget of NT$5 billion for the renovation of the Huannan Market, Ko said, adding that the management of those markets is the key issue.
“We are now spending [nearly] NT$20 billion on the renovations, so the markets must be transformed into the newest and the cleanest [state] possible, by enforcing policies such as the separation of dry and wet [ingredients] and keeping trash off the ground,” he said.
Ko said the renovation project for the fruit and fish market would start with the construction of a temporary marketplace later this year, but added that the vendors are unsatisfied with the duration of the project.
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