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Abdali vs. Ras Al Ain

Sep 22,2014 - Last updated at Sep 22,2014

Controversy has emerged in Amman over two locations for the Friday market: Abdali or Ras Al Ain.

The date for the relocation is set for October 10. Ample time was given by the municipality to those directly involved in the move.

But what are the pros and cons of this transfer?

The Abdali market was opened, nearly 12 years ago, as an alternative vegetable and fruit market. Slowly, but steadily, household items and second-hand clothes started being sold at the market and became dominant.

Around 160 dismountable kiosks were at the market when it was opened. Their number more than tripled since then.

Owners of these kiosks used to pay a weekly fee of JD2 to the municipality. Merchants stopped paying that fee as a by-product of the “Arab-Spring” in 2010.

Every Friday evening, municipality workers collect more than 25 tonnes of garbage left behind by the vendors. They finish the work by noontime the following day.

Upon hearing the news of relocation, new vendors started pouring onto the present site, forcing their own spaces in the already congested market. Some of them even occupied chunks of the sidewalks allocated for pedestrians.

These latecomers, I was told, tend to resell or sublease their spots.

Residents and shop owners in the adjacent streets and neighbourhoods, like Jabal Lweibdeh and Jabal Hussein, have been complaining, to no avail, about the non-stop noise caused by this huge gathering of vendors and shoppers just metres away from their doorsteps.

Because of the shortage of public toilets, the nearby alleys and courtyards of these buildings and shops were turned into convenient free-of-charge substitutes. 

Residents are deprived of the right to have calm and privacy for two consecutive days a week, and are deprived of parking space in front of their houses.

The Abdali market occupies about 30 dunums. It is designated by the municipality to become a major recreational park to compliment the general urbanisation plan of the city, especially in this congested strategic area.

Those in favour of the relocation think that the new site is more conveniently located since it is closer to old downtown Amman area.

It is supposed to have all essential services, such as public toilets, parking lots and on-site administrative organisation that can make life easier for clients and patrons.

In the last few days, those protesting the relocation plan hoisted colourful banners around the market, decrying the upcoming disaster and its grave consequences on the low-income people.

Some of the vendors, luckily few, are promising a more aggressive approach and methods to salvage their rights. The majority, however, tends to accept relocation.

Salem Ayoub Quna,

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