This year's night market: space main issue for customers

The annual night market is a grand bazaar for both businesses and customers. Hundreds flock to the tiny stalls. Though the area for the market is small, the market is a successful one. The market is fondly nicknamed "Ungulhey Baazaaru", a constant reminder that the market is congested, with barely enough room to move.

Usually, the market was held in Lonuziyaaraai area, extending all the way to Marry Brown area. Between 750 and 800 stalls are squeezed into the area, and is filled by customers at any given point.

The Lonuziyaaraai area is now the construction site for the China Maldives Friendship Bridge. As such, unlike past years, the Maldives Chamber of Commerce had to rethink their location options. The night market this year had to be relocated to the smaller carnival area.

In spite of the small area, the night market had begun. The market is managed by Maldives Music and Arts Center (MMAC). Managing a market that is in high demand in small space is a constant challenge.

"Before, we had 750 stalls. Due to the bridge project, the market has to be held in the carnival. We wanted to give out the maximum number of stalls, but we could only lease tables to 350 stalls," MMAC Chairman Ali Abdul Kareem (Rukumaa) said.

He said the profit per stall had bumped due to the low number of stalls.

"Not much of a difference between the previous years and this year. But, this year market is congested, we cannot easily access many areas. Its okay, but there are too many people. Wish if they can get a bigger space," a visitor said.

Some of the business owners said that due to the space constraints they were not able to showcase their entire range of products. Many customers say they had troubles in accessing stalls.

The visitors to the market are on the rise. Security has also been increased, with Dhivehi Security Pioneers monitoring the area 24 hours. All businesses have been given a MVR 100,000 insurance package. Even though this year's market is going on successfully, it is apparent that a better location for the night market is a vital need.