Chaguanas Main Road cleared of illegal vendors

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The Chaguanas market where on May 28, illegal vendors staged a protest after police moved in to remove them. – Photo by Lincoln Holder

THE main road in Chaguanas is now clear of illegal street vendors days after some of them staged a protest outside the market over a police clamp down on their vending activities.

There were mixed views from market vendors with some saying they were very happy with the removal of the street vendors who were directly competing with them for sales from the public. Others said everyone was trying to make an honest living both inside and outside of the market.

Some vendors were unwilling to give their names fearing a backlash from the street vendors.

Market vendor Ishmael Haman said he has been selling for the past 30 years and started off as a street vendor.

“I cannot speak bad about them because I came from there. I have to give them that respect,” Haman said.

Another vendor, Hickson Alexander, said the street vendors have been hustling just like everyone else in the market.

Alexander added, “Some of them who are complaining about it are miserable people. People who say street vendors are taking customers are just talking. People buy according to how much they have in their pockets. They would come inside if they do not like the prices outside.”

Alexander said all should be given a chance to try to earn an honest living and he recommended the market be expanded with a new building which, he said, can be built on the compound of an adjoining piece of land which is being used as a car park.

A female vendor said many people are coming to the market but are not buying much.

“I was not here on Tuesday when the protest happened. We have to pay to sell in the market and they (street vendors) do not. They are outside selling for free and we are inside catching our tail to sell. We are seeing trouble to sell,” she said.

Another female vendor labelled the street vendors as lawless, adding that “real vendors” do not support them.

On May 28, street vendors blocked the usually busy street with burning debris, temporarily halting traffic to highlight their displeasure over a municipal police-led exercise to curb illegal vending.

Chaguanas mayor Faaiq Mohammed said booth spaces are available inside the market and he encouraged the street vendors to do what is legal.

Mohammed said the exercise was the first since the new council was formed, adding it will be an ongoing one.