Blahbatuh Traditional Market in Gianyar, once bustling with activity, has now come to a complete stop: the fire that occurred on Tuesday, June 15, 2021, burned the market and all its contents to the ground. With their stalls – their livelihoods – suddenly vanished, hundreds of traders are left wondering how they will survive. Officers are still looking for the original source of the fire.
Police lines were installed to prevent people from entering the site of the fire, as the traders stared blankly at the place where they had earned a living. The market was closed when the fire broke out, so – while the traders were fortunately not hurt – they were not able to rescue their things.
According to one of the traders, the fire appeared around 15.30 WITA and originated inside the market. “Initially, I didn’t know that there was a fire; [I] had already returned [but] my merchandise was still in the market. It’s scorched here. Everything is gone,” said Wayan Sudiani, a clothing trader at the market.
In response to the fires that extinguished the traders’ livelihoods, IDEP set up a Relief Post. From June 16th through 18th, 2021, the IDEP Emergency Response team provided free drinks and snacks for traders and police officers. This post also served as a place for traders to relax, grieve, and start a shared emotional healing process after this trauma.
When the police finally removed the tape, the traders streamed into the market, hoping to find something left unscorched. However, all that remained was the burnt iron shelves. They had no choice but to sell them as scrap at low prices. According to Sriati, who sold soap in the market before the fire, one kilogram of scrap iron – all that remained of her stall – was only worth four thousand rupiah. Other traders experienced the same fate.
When they grew weary of searching in vain for anything that might have escaped the flames, they took shelter under the IDEP Relief Post tent to enjoy the coffee and snacks. “Gone,” “money out,” “keweh ngalih gae” (hard to find work) repeatedly rose from the traders’ conversations.
Many traders don’t know where the Gianyar government will relocate them. However, they still hope to continue selling as usual. “I hope that I will continue to sell in Blahbatuh, because the customers are here. They also know that I usually sell here,” said Wayan Sudiani, looking blankly at her former stall.
Even as her source of livelihood has been extinguished, and she doesn’t know how she will pay her expenses, the mother of two still wants to sell goods. She hopes that when the government relocates the traders later, they can get a proper place like she once counted on at Blahbatuh Market. (Gd)