Subject: KY: Japan-funded market rebuilding program starts

Japan-funded market rebuilding program starts in E. Timor

Kyodo News

DILI, East Timor , July 3 --

A Japan-funded project to rebuild East Timor markets destroyed by Indonesian military-backed anti-independence militia groups last year has begun, the U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) said Monday.

The rebuilding of the suburban Becora and Comoro markets on the outskirts of Dili, East Timor 's capital, started last Tuesday with $552,000 in funding from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

To implement the project, which UNTAET said is urgently needed to reduce congestion at the city's Central Market, JICA has enlisted the help of the Japanese chapter of Adventist Development and Relief (ADRA), an international nongovernmental organization.

The work, expected to take three months, includes the renovation of roofs and the building of modern market buildings and vendor stalls.

After the Aug. 30 vote for independence, most businesses, government buildings and private dwellings in Dili and other towns throughout the territory were burnt and looted, while the main market facilities in Dili were destroyed.

The Central Market is now the only public market in which a significant number of vendors have set up stalls, though small markets have sprung up all around Dili on street verges, vacant land, in front of private homes, along the beachfront and other areas where private markets were banned under Indonesian rule.

Stalls have spread without any control throughout the remains of the old Central Market, resulting in dirty, overcrowded and congested conditions that have led to concerns about the environment and health.

They have also flowed into the market's peripheral areas, impeding the flow of traffic through the city center.

According to U.N. civilian police sources, organized criminal elements are believed to be operating in the market, while many vendors are having to sleep at their stalls overnight to protect their goods and secure their site. Police have already had to be called to the market on several occasions to quell disturbances.

ADRA Japan representatives said restoring a well-managed, decentralized market system should help restore a sense of normalcy in Dili, rejuvenate the local economy and help small-scale producers and vendors build a sense of self-worth and self-sufficiency.

But they said it remains to be seen whether getting vendors to move away from the sites they currently occupy can be carried out smoothly.

UNTAET officials said it is hoped the improved and more secure conditions at the suburban Becora and Comoro markets will act as a magnet.

Each market will initially have eight kiosks and space for 180 stalls. Vendors are being invited to register by the end of August, after which a lottery will take place to allocate places.

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