The “Kara-Suu” market of Osh region is one of the largest in Kyrgyzstan. Here, more than five thousand people work for living.
CABAR.asia special photo report
Most goods come from China. Residents of Osh, Jalal-Abad, Batken regions of Kyrgyzstan, as well as residents of Fergana and Andijan region of Uzbekistan, shop here.
Turnover in this market amounts to millions of dollars. Kara-Suu had its ups and downs. After the thaw in relations with Uzbekistan in 2017 and the launch of the major border checkpoint “Dostuk”, the number of customers from the neighboring country increased, and the market itself was replenished with agricultural products from the border areas of Uzbekistan.
“We came here from Andijan (Uzbekistan) to buy clothes because it’s cheaper here”, says Rano.
The total area of Kara-Suu is 24 hectares. This area is divided into 20 markets; the largest of them are “Turataly” and “Oomat”.
The market trade is put on hold on Monday, as the cleaning works are carried out. On Friday, most of the sellers perform the Friday namaz and either close their shops earlier or do not open them at all.
The hottest trading days are Saturday and Sunday.
There are many currency exchange points on the market. 100 Kyrgyz soms equal approximately to $1.5, and 1,000 Uzbek so’ms – to $0.12.
After Kyrgyz-Uzbek border opening, it was not only agricultural products that began arriving to the market: plastic dishes and cauldrons from Andijan are also being sold here.
“The cauldrons from Osh are more expensive. A 100 liters’ cauldron costs 2,200 soms. The same cauldron from Uzbekistan costs 1600 soms. Customers prefer the ones that are cheaper”, said a seller Anvar.
Islambek, a seller of construction materials, said that he uses small trucks as well as compact motorcycles (scooters) to move around the market.
“Goods from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are brought during the night. We bring construction materials from Uzbekistan”, said Islambek.
According to Islambek, plenty of textile products come from Uzbekistan.
Around 50 thousand people come to the market every day.
An underground passage between the large markets of “Turatali” and “Oomat” is under construction on Lenin street. The Kyrgyz government allocated 28 million soms ($405) from the state budget for this purpose.
Wholesale trade usually takes place on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The carts are used to transport goods, as the passages inside the market are narrow.
There are special taxi drivers working for customers from nearby regions of Uzbekistan. Taking taxi from Dostuk to the market costs $1.22.
Some customers first come to Osh and then go to the border from there. This saves their money twice.
The merchants load goods to be sent to Bishkek.
Traffic jam on the road from Osh to the Kara-Suu market.
A travelling zoo from the city of Andijan near the market. The zoo with more than 50 species of wild animals stopped here for two days leaving for Uzgen next week.
Bazaar parking space.
This article was prepared as part of the Giving Voice, Driving Change – from the Borderland to the Steppes Project implemented with the financial support of the Foreign Ministry of Norway.