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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Fire at Marywilska Street. Thermoses, blankets and an overnight queue for containers

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We exist. Don't forget – say merchants from Marywilska. Two weeks ago, most of them lost their lives in a huge fire. Today at 9 a.m. they will start drawing lots for places in temporary containers that the city has prepared for trade. They arrived on site on Sunday because they wanted to make sure that the draw would go smoothly.

Monday. 30 minutes after midnight. Several dozen people walk, stand or sit in groups. – There were over a hundred people. Some will come back later, some went to buy food – says one of the merchants we pass at the entrance gate.

Cars around. A lot of cars. Some people sleep in them, others just fall asleep. Some say they keep watch because at At 4.00 a.m. they will check the attendance list again. It's their own idea. – We care, but it's still a haunting situation. We have lost everything and we still have to camp here – we hear from one of the ladies we also pass at the gate at ul. Marywilska.

Until May 15, those who lost their shops in the great fire could report to the city hall in Warsaw that they wanted to trade at a temporary market that the local government would organize. About 500 people completed the declaration. On Sunday, they decided to create a queue list so that on Monday morning, when the officials show up at Marywilska Street again, they could calmly enter and draw one of the containers in which they would temporarily trade. The containers will be 30 or 15 square meters. In this space, merchants will have to fit what they sometimes had in several or even a dozen or so outlets that they operated in the burned hall.

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Merchants from Marywilska – night queue before the drawJoanna Rubin/ tvn24.pl

A queue is needed because “people can't stand it, they're nervous”

– You see, we have returned to the times of trading at the stadium (the Tenth Anniversary Stadium – ed.) – comments one of the women who “has been in trading with her husband since forever” commenting on the night camp. In the background there are blankets, a camp bed and deckchairs.

It shows us the layout of the temporary places proposed by the management of Marywilska 44.

– Gray color, fashion zone, that is us, we have four rows here. Household appliances, further zones. And the point is that places will be drawn from each zone – he explains.

Marywilska – distribution of temporary places for merchantsMarywilska 44

– That's why I'm standing here in a chair overnight until 9 a.m., because I know what it's going to look like. If it weren't for the list, everyone would be jumping into the lottery. People can't stand it, they're nervous. They lost their life's work, a lot of money. Now there is a list, everyone signs up and confirms every few hours that they are waiting in line. There will be no fights, he says hopefully.

– Although I know that some people laugh at us, that we have no dignity, that we are asking – he emphasizes.

Merchants from MarywilskaJoanna Rubin/ tvn24.pl

“You know, I loved this job”

He says that before the fire, they rented thirteen cubicles. – Now I don't know if I will get a 30-meter container. We employed 13 people, there is no work for them now. The situation is stalemate. I may also complain why I am renting so many stores and I am sitting here on a chair under the hall, but I want to take care of the opportunity for myself, I want to be able to work. You know, I loved this job, she says.

Our other interlocutor, a tenant from Marywilska, says that it should be organized differently. – This is drama. The office received declarations one by one (about the willingness to trade in a temporary place – ed.) with specific dates. According to this order, we should be invited to the office to sign the contract. Like people. Some, for example, at 9 o'clock, others at 10 o'clock. And we are sitting here like cattle and waiting – he gets angry. – Moms, sandwiches, juices, blankets – he lists. Meanwhile, her husband brings her coffee in a thermos.

The woman emphasizes that the management of Marywilska is doing a lot to help them. – But despite this, I sit at night and wait so as not to get out of line. I'm 88, I don't know what will come of it – he shrugs.

The point of the queue list is – as the merchants say – to be as sure as possible that those who declared the need for 30 square meters of space will actually get it. They explain that when declaring trade earlier in May, they had to choose the size of the container. Now the number of these 30-meter ones is limited (as declared), and after May 15, some buyers decided that they would not fit in 15 meters and may also want larger ones.

– There is a lot of uncertainty in us, but we care very much. Our whole lives have been here. We won't be able to fit in 30 meters with what we sell, but at least we want to have 30 meters now – says another interlocutor.

The night before the container draw at Marywilska StreetJoanna Rubin/ tvn24.pl

One request

What's next? – We have nothing because everything burned down. We have to start from the negative. The good news is that the first three months of container rental will be free – we hear.

Others say that they still have strength and invite people to visit their stores, which they are now fighting for.

Merchants say that Warsaw officials who arrived on site and saw Marywilska burning were equally scared and devastated.

tvn24.pl interlocutors – at 1 a.m. on May 27 – 15 days after the fire – they emphasize that they have one request to the Warsaw authorities. The idea is to rebuild the hall in a year. They think it's real. – It takes effort, but it can be done. Developers are popping up with housing estates like mushrooms after rain. The key is to facilitate the process of deciding whether to start building a new marketplace and to ensure that the papers on the desks do not turn into huge piles, which would mean that trade on Marywilska Street would die for years – emphasizes one of the women.

In the burned hall at Marywilska Street in Warsaw there were over 1,400 shops and service points. There are many Vietnamese among their owners and employees. We don't see them among nomadic people.

– They have their list, they are waiting. They were here with us. Did you know that they felt safer here on Marywilska than anywhere else in Warsaw? This was their life. At home, they often only sleep, he concludes.

The first commercial containers are scheduled to be delivered by the end of June this year. Marywilska 44 plans to close the entire project at the end of July this year, so that the temporary shopping center can start operating from the beginning of August.

Read also: “I was a wreck, I couldn't get out of bed”

Author:Joanna Rubin, Adam Sobolewski/ToL

Main photo source: Joanna Rubin/ tvn24.pl

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