Chapter 7. Management and regulation of markets

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This chapter outlines the management and institutional factors which need to he taken into account when developing proposals for a new market or for upgrading existing market facilities.

Market management systems

The improvement of markets should always start with an examination of whether the existing methods of management, rather than the physical facilities, are not in themselves a major constraint to efficient operations. It may be necessary to develop radically different ownership patterns and market management procedures.

Market ownership options

There a clear distinction between the management needs of an exclusively retail market and one which has an assembly or wholesaling function. In the case of the latter it is important for both producers and buyers to be provided with an environment where price formation can occur. In these circumstances, the public sector may not necessarily provide the best management system, as the motivations of public sector bodies are often quite unrelated to agriculture. Thus, where the major function of a market is related to assembly or wholesaling the ideal form of management is more likely to be one where producers or traders are the main driving force in both creating the market and in providing its long-term management. The wholesale markets of London and Amsterdam are examples of such cooperative organizations.

However, this is unlikely to be suitable for small-scale. mixed function markets where the main role is that of providing retail facilities. Although in the long term some form of privatization of market services may be appropriate (e.g. by franchise agreements for management of selected services), in the short term a rural or municipal council is likely to be the most appropriate body to manage a retail market.

Changes to market management systems

Any changes to an existing market management system will need to be based on a realistic assessment of what is practical. Institutional changes may in some cases be essential, whilst in other only minimal changes may be needed. Often, an analysis of the present operations of a market may reveal that within existing physical and budgetary constraints, a market is quite well managed. What is needed in that case is to build upon this management capacity. The difficulties which may exist in a market are often the results of a lack of a unified management system, hampering the efficient utilization of market facilities and limiting the means by which it is possible to adequately respond to the needs of market users.

Small rural markets or urban roadside markets: a complex organization structure is not appropriate in this case. The presence of full-time market staff des not make any economic sense and the options are limited to either a franchise operation with private enterprise or an organization run by a traders' group or association. At the simplest level, particularly when rents for stalls or pitches are collected on a monthly or annual basis, regular visits by local health and licensing inspectors will be an adequate system of management.

Larger markets: the control and policy functions are performed on a day-to day basis by officials appointed by a rural or municipal council. The basic question will be: how can this system be improved? A market should ideally be self-accounting, with its own budget and be separately audited, with day-to-day operations coming under the direction of the Market Master.

Policy and control functions would normally be vested in a management committee with a wide representation of the parties directly concerned with the overall market operations, drawn from the local authority and other relevant bodies, including representatives of traders', producers' and consumers" organizations. If traders are not organized one of the main functions of the committee will be to assist in setting up an appropriate organization. The chair of the committee should report directly to the director of the local authority.

A management committee's responsibility is to design and operate a well-functioning organization; which will include defining procedures for the following:

For small rural markets and urban street markets many of these functions will still exist but are obviously less complex in nature. In that case, the majority of decision making should be delegated to a traders' organization. The market authority (whether local authority or private enterprise) would need to initiate meetings on a regular basis with the traders in order that specific issues can be discussed and resolved.

Institutional actions

Although the broad framework for operating the market may have been defined this will probably need further clarification before project implementation can occur. For complex projects a number of actions will typically need to be taken prior to implementation:

Responsibility of a market authority in market management

The role of an authority or management unit is crucial for a market's administration and operation and there is often a need to strengthen it so that these functions can be effectively performed. This will apply whether the authority is dealing with individual street traders or groups of market traders. To achieve the efficient day-to-day operation of a market the minimum duties that a market authority should be involved in are:

Market fees and revenues

There are a number of different ways in which markets can collect revenues. The collection method should be simple and inexpensive to administer, and it should correspond to normal practices. The collection method should be seen to be fair and be highly visible. What is appropriate for a main urban retail market will not be suitable for a street market. The following types of market tees are usual:

Function of market staff

The function of the market staff is to co-ordinate and manage the operation of a market and to provide general services for the benefit of all the market users. A market usually comes under the overall supervision of a market superintendent, master or clerk. He or she will provide the main channel of communication to the board or committee and be assisted by a minimum number of staff. A medium or large-size market, for example, may have three basic sections: revenue collection, administration, and record keeping (including providing price information); security and traffic control; and cleaning and maintenance.

A major part of a market authority's role is to maintain hygiene standards (e.g collection of waste and regulation of meat/fish sales) and to provide security. This is usually done in cooperation with public health authorities and the police force. The control of theft and crime in markets is a major problem worldwide and losses by these means often account for a significant amount of market users' costs.

Another important function of the market staff is to promote efficient operations. It is essential, therefore, to maintain good relations with market users, involving them in the operation and maintenance of the facilities. The market staff should also promote the use of improved facilities and equipment, in order to attract vendors of a diverse range of products and to maximize the market's turn-over.

Market rules and regulations

Without a minimum of discipline, understood and agreed by the users, market operations cannot succeed. Therefore, the smooth operation of a market and the proper use of its facilities requires the promotion and strict compliance with a set of realistic regulations. However, many existing market rules are not directed towards efficient operations. They frequently have a regulatory character and are hardly implemented.

To allow regulations to be imposed at a market there needs to be enabling legislation in place and this is usually provided in the form local government acts or, more rarely, special market legislation. This legislation permits an authority to enact or modify by-laws. Proposals for new regulations should be prepared in collaboration with market administration, staff and users and should not be limited to questions of the operation of market outlets. The probable behaviour of the users should be taken into account and rules devised which are enforceable within the constraints of staff availability and cultural norms. For easy and correct enforcement, the rules need to be clear, concise and written in language intelligible to every user. A public signboard giving a summary of the main rules, principally those relating to operation hours, traffic, public and users behaviour, should be put up in various points within the market.

A simple and comprehensive set of model regulations is shown in Annex C. These can be modified depending on the size and function of the market. The basic issues that need to be addressed in any set of rules or written into any lease agreement are outlined below.

Market administration

Administrative matters should be covered, including the name and address of the market authority, their general liability and disciplinary powers, and sanctions which will be applied for breaches of the marketing, hygiene and security rules. The contract duration should be specified, including the renewal or termination conditions (i.e. the period of notice and how it is to be given). Ideally, contracts for the rent of fixed stalls should not exceed one year. Temporary users should be required to pay fees in advance on a daily basis.

Sanctions in case of defaults in payment should be defined (normally requiring the termination of a contract), together with the liability of retailers for any damage caused by them or their personnel, either to the common parts of the market or to the allocated stand or stall. The competent authority to settle conflicts between users and administration should also be specified.

Market operations

The opening and closing hours of the market should be specified, including special days such as religious holidays and other days when the market is closed. In some markets a set period is specified for deliveries and stall preparation (generally during the first 2 to 3 hours before opening to the public). At opening time, all further deliveries should be prohibited and stall displays completed. At the end of the day it is normal for traders to leave within 30 minutes of public closing time.

The regulations should provide powers to the market personnel to enforce traffic management controls, including correct parking, non obstruction of roads, prohibition of washing or repairing vehicles, and the rapid departure of vehicles after unloading.

The market authority should have the right to prohibit users from erecting any structure and from installing refrigeration or other electric equipment without obtaining approval. The authority should also reserve the right to undertake general inspections of premises at any time and to be able to direct stallholders to make repairs.

Marketing practices

Traders should be prohibited from selling goods other than those noted in their contract. There should be a general obligation for retailers with permanent contracts to maintain their stall open during the working hours and for the duration of contract. Traders should be excluded from encroaching or obstructing public rights of way.

Depending on local practice there should be an obligation on traders to display prices by labels or notice board (see Figure 84) and to use accurate scales. The authority should reserve a right of inspection by market personnel (normally in collaboration with a local authority's Weights and Measures service).

Public order

The market authority should reserve the right to prohibit admission or expel any person causing a disturbance in the market. It should also reserve the right to terminate the contracts of users with a record of bad relationships with other traders, the market administration and the general public.

Security and fire safety

Theft, accidents or damage caused by fire together with the misuse of equipment has to be minimised. To ensure security, all critical areas, such as electrical control rooms, should be kept locked and only authorized personnel should have access. Fire extinguishers and hydrants should be regularly inspected and access to fire-fighting equipment should not be obstructed. There should be a prohibition on the use of open fires for cooking except in locations designated for that purpose.

Hygiene control and inspection

Hygiene is a critical part of any market rules, and these should thus include the right of a market administration to withdraw any product unsuitable for consumption and to void a contract in cases of frequent breach of hygiene standards. Where stalls are provided, products should not be placed on the ground and the market authority should reserve the right to reject any spoiled food products. Tools and cleaning products should be stored in a place out of contact with food products. Traders should be obliged to keep stalls clean and waste should be deposited in the bins or skips provided by the market authority. General cleaning should be undertaken at the end of the working day.

Unless special facilities are provided, the regulations should exclude access for live animals from the market and also prohibit slaughtering. All slaughtered meat entering a market should have been inspected by competent veterinary services. Butchers' cutting boards and other tools should be kept clean and butchers should be prohibited from mincing meat in advance of purchase. Frozen products should be immediately stored in a cold room or cold cabinet.

To prevent diseases spread by direct contact or though product handling every person working in outlets selling dairy products, fish, poultry, meat-based products and cooked food, should have an annual medical inspection and, ideally, wear an apron and a head covering, such as a hat or scarf.

Market maintenance

The question of market maintenance is of great importance for market operations. In many cases maintenance is unsatisfactory because market revenues are usually required to go into the consolidated fund of a local authority or central government treasury. The creation of an autonomous market authority can be a useful means of preventing this problem, particularly if the market has its own development and maintenance fund. Ideally, between 20 and 30 per cent of the market revenue should be used for such purposes.

The maintenance of a market comprises a wide range of activities. Daily cleaning of the common parts and individual premises will be needed, particularly the stalls and equipment in any meat and fish sections and where cooked food is being prepared. On a periodic basis, cleaning and maintenance of the building fabric will be needed, including the removal of cobwebs, repair and cleaning of roof and wall finishes and upkeep of the main services, such as the water supply, drainage and sewerage systems. Infrastructure and buildings, including the floors, gates, fences and stalls, should be kept in good state of repair.

The proper maintenance of refrigeration facilities is also important. They present a particular health problem and to ensure good product preservation it is necessary to check the accuracy of the temperature, ensure that the defrost system is functioning and that air circulation is not obstructed by products in store.

One of the main issues to consider will be the collection of solid waste (see Chapter 6). Inside the market area this will normally be the responsibility of market cleaners. The local authority will normally be responsible for collection from the market and ultimate disposal.

The responsibility for market maintenance will be divided between the market authority and the market's users. For long-term maintenance, the use of outside contractors is likely to be appropriate. An outline schedule for market maintenance is shown in Table 7.1.


With complex projects, regular training will be an essential component. This should aim to strengthen the ability of market staff to manage a market more efficiently and help retailers to improve their profit margins. Successful training of retailers should make them more competitive.

To implement a training programme it will be necessary to appoint a person to be in charge of organizing, coordinating and supervising the training activities. This will include defining the training needs for market personnel and market users, and selecting the candidates to participate in the programme. Ideally, a number of persons should be given additional training in different fields so that they can continue the training activities after the main training programme is completed. With a major training programme it will also be necessary to undertake a regular evaluation of the training activities.

Training for market operators needs to be accompanied by the promotion of improved marketing practices, (e.g. use of transactions by weight) and this is often best achieved by extension programmes.

TABLE 7.1. Market maintenance and repair activities

Section of market Frequency Responsibility
COMMON PARTS: - outside areas  
Sweep market common parts before starting operation. Daily Market cleaners
Wash-down slaughter slab (if applicable) Daily Market cleaners
Clean public toilets/latrines Daily Market cleaners
Collect solid waste at end of day Daily Market cleaners
Wash cool store floor, rails and hooks (if applicable) Weekly Market cleaners
Spray against insects Monthly Market cleaners
Inspect and clean out and de-silt surface water drains Monthly Market cleaners
Re-paint road and floor markings Annually Contractor
Rod-out closed drains and sewers Annually Contractor
Check electrical supply connections Annually Contractor
Maintain gates and fences in good repair Every 2 to 3 years Contractor
Maintain roads and floors in good repair Every 3 to 5 years Contractor
Sweep aisles and entrances before starting operation. Daily Market cleaners
Sweep market stalls before starting operation. Daily Stall holders
Wash stalls in meat and fish sections Daily Stall holders
Remove cobwebs to roof Weekly Market cleaners
Replace light bulbs, fluorescent tubes, etc. When necessary Market cleaners
Clean windows Every 2 to 3 months Contractor
Check electrical fittings and fuses, etc. Annually Contractor
Check fire extinguishers, alarms, etc. Annually Contractor
Repair fixed market stalls Every 2 to 3 years Contractor
Repaint building structure, doors, windows. etc. Every 3 to 5 years Contractor

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