Khwairamband market women vendors face lockdown woes

Imphal: With the imposition of total lockdown at Khwairamband Keithel/Bazar in an around Ima Market women vendors struggle for survival by selling items along food paths and in front of shops in residential areas away from the traditional women market in Imphal city.

Many of them are daily bread earners of their family. Some of them who are from far villages stay at rental homes in Imphal to earn their living selling vegetables, fruits and other items during the Covid-19 lockdown.

“We are allowed to open market during the relaxed hours from 6 am to 2 pm everyday except Sundays. We sell very less as compared to those days at Khwairamband bazar,” Sapam Mema, an Imphal resident who currently sells fruits and vegetables at Khoyathong area told Pothashang.

Mema was a vendor at New Ima Market at Khwairamband bazar and later shifted her stall at Nagamapal women market. As the women markets at Khwairamband Bazar shut down continuously since the lockdown began she has to move at different locations at Thangmeiband to open her stall.

“I use to sell at the range of Rs 8000 to Rs 1000 everyday while vending at the bazar, but here I hardly sell for Rs 700 in a day. Now it’s very hard to make a living, ” Mema said. 

The government has been taking positive measures for the people by distributing rice to every family and giving financial assistance to poor families through transfer in bank accounts. I thank the government for the measures. “But for those who do not have  bank accounts like me fail to get the monthly financial assistance of Rs 500 provided by the government among other assistance provided to poor women,” said the women who lost her husband years back.

Rice is not only the item required for a living and we have to find ways and means to meet daily requirements, she added  

During this pandemic it would be better for the Khwairamband Keithel to remain closed, she opined saying that everyone is facing trouble due to Covid-19 crisis, she said.

A vendor who vends pop rice items and traditional sweets at the foot path along RIMS (Regional Institute of Medical Sciences) Road, L. Bina said, “We the women vendors of Ima Keithel are suffering with the closure of the market due lockdown. I wish normalcy returns in the state and the market opens, “she said.

“I could sell at the range of Rs 3-4 thousands while vending at Ima Keithel. But today, here on the footpath, I sell my items at the range of Rs 200-300,” said the woman from Thangmeiband who has three children. She said as her husband and children are unemployed, and her family depends on her daily earning. “The meager returns I get from selling for few Rupees cannot suffice even to procure vegetables,” she said.

Pothashang, among other vendors, came across some women vendors from villages far away from Imphal city, who resides at rental homes in Imphal. 

“We could earn for our living while vending vegetables at Nagamapal. The present situation has brought us here to open our stall on this footpath. We are struggling hard with no other option here in Imphal,” two women vendors from Sekmai who vends along DM college road said.

According to Mema about 3000 women vend at New Market and about 1000 women vend at Nagamapal market.

Above 3000 women vend at main Ima Market.

“The lockdown has paralysed all women markets in Khwairamband bazar and we have to buy vegetables at very high prices from the vendors vending at our locality, “A. Uma, an Imphal resident said.

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