Tuesday, 02 October 2012, 11:42 GMT
Sheikhalla, a market full of violations

A man walks past a pile of garbage in Sheikhalla, downtown Erbil./GLOBE PHOTO/Safin Hamid

The Kurdish Globe

"We are planning to reorganize the whole market from zero,"

Walking through the Sheikhalla Market, the most crowded market in Downtown Erbil, one would imagine that there are no laws or regulations in this area.

Sewage water is being mixed with garbage collected on the street right in front of a butcher shop. This produces an intolerable odor and hundreds of insects are attacking the meat in the shop as well as the fruit and vegetables in the grocery shop next door.

In this market, where people shop mainly for foodstuff and home necessities, and where all the foodstuff wholesalers are located, one cannot walk easily, having to pass through narrow openings between cars, carriages, stuff showcased on the passageway and garbage.

Most of the shop owners have occupied the passageways with their products and the streets with their cars. According to Karzan Mohammed Amin, a shop owner, the shop owners are competing on occupying the largest part of the passageways with their wares.

Not only are the passageways blocked, but also the street as well. Two rows of cars park on the right hand side of the street and one on the left, this is in addition to numerous carriages which are selling stuff on the street. The crowd reaches its peak late in the afternoon.

Virtually everything is sold in this market ranging from foodstuff, veggies, fruits, kitchenware, cleaning products, cloths, electrical fixtures, home appliances, pipes, bicycles ,motorcycles and many other things. Even most of the city's money exchange and money transfer offices are located in the heart of Sheikhalla.

If monitoring committees of the health and municipality ministries pass by this street, they would, based on their regulations and procedures, close down all the shops due to numerous violations and trespasses.

A street vendor who was selling fruits on a carriage expressed his gratitude towards government for allowing everyone to do his business and earn some money. But a shop owner, on the other hand, seemed to be exhausted from all these violations and crowd and said "violation also has a limit, but here it has passed all limits."

One can rarely find a garbage container or even a plastic bag in any shops and everybody throws off his/her garbage on the street, creating mountains of garbage by end of the day, while just meters from this different kinds of uncovered food are sold.

Another street vendor was selling dairy products on the street in the sun and argued that no government official has informed him that dairy products should be stored in a specific temperature rather than in the sun and in the dust.

Rahman Hashim, a middle-aged man who was in Sheikhalla to buy some foodstuff, told the Globe that lack of government control is the major factor "because if government does not control and monitor such issues, such a chaos would easily be created."

Although the market monitoring teams visit the markets to ensure that all the regulations are followed and many places are closed down and fined for violations on a daily basis, it would seem that this regulatory body does not exist in Sheikhalla.

Hersih Hussien, Deputy Mayor of Erbil and head of the infractions" committee admitted that there are a lot of violations taking place in a regular basis in Sheikhalla and they are aware of that.

"We are planning to reorganize the whole market from zero," Hussein told the Globe. "There are a large number of low income people who earn their livings in this market and we don't want to hurt them till we find a better alternative and we relocate the whole market to a new place where everyone can do his business while all regulations are followed."