Mixed views as Scarborough market reopens

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Scarborough vendors sell their goods in the facility’s carpark last Friday during santitation of the facility. The market reopened on Tuesday. – David Reid

A clean facility greeted vendors as the gates of the Scarborough market reopened after extensive sanitisation was completed.

On July 27, the THA Division of Food Security, Natural Resources, the Environment and Sustainable Development said the market would be closed for sanitisation until August 1.

The division later said the sanitisation process would take more time.

Meanwhile, some of the vendors unofficially used spaces at the nearby Victor E Bruce Financial Complex carpark.

On Tuesday, they were allowed back into the market.

Vendor Ellery Davis Pablo wipes a crate as he gets ready to resume selling inside the reopened Scarborough market on Tuesday. – David Reid

When Newsday visited, there was a limited number of vendors inside.

Those inside were anxious to be back.

Plant vendor Lyndon Beckes said: “I feel good. I mean, some of my plants have died, but I feel good because I am back out to service the needs of my clientele.”

Baker and restaurateur Kolonji James said: “I am extremely happy – it has been long overdue. It’s a good thing, it is a nice thing after losing so much business for the last few weeks. There is so much that one can really do to prevent infestations.

“In some parts of the world, they clean as you go, it is really sad that it had to reach this extent, because a lot of business was lost. So I am extremely happy to be back.”

Those outside had a different view. They voiced their displeasure, saying there was a lack of communication.

Vendor Lydia Joseph said: “We don’t even know what’s going on. Aren’t we entitled to know what’s going on?

“Nobody came to us and tell us anything. A text was sent out via WhatsApp, but 90 per cent of the older women here do not have that kind of phone. So just for professionalism or courtesy, we think somebody should come and talk to us.”

Joseph said over the past 16 days, vendors have been in the market carpark, but during that time no official has come and spoken to them.

“Yesterday (Monday) the administrator passed and whispered to us, ‘We’re opening the market tomorrow.’

“But nobody has really told us anything about what is going on. We need somebody to come out here and talk to us like we are human beings. We need to negotiate, because we pay $300 per day.”

She said they continue to get unofficial reports.

“Through the grapevine we’re hearing that we’re going in today, but we have to come out again on Saturday.

“They cannot do that. We don’t want to go in there and then again have to move all the stuff out here again, We think it’s not fair.

Plant vendor Lyndon Beckles tends to his plants as he returns to his stall inside the Scarborough market on Tuesday. – David Reid

“We are women, 90 per cent of the market vendors are women, and we have to keep moving these (goods).

“They are saying that the market would be cleaned every weekend. We can’t afford that.”

Another vendor, Jennifer Noel-Since, shared similar concerns.

“Since I’ve been working here, this is one of the worst. When they are doing this, I think they’re supposed to come to us, as the vendors, and tell us why they’re doing what they’re doing.”

She is ready to discuss compensation.

“We have to pay for these tents. It is about $3,000-plus now I have to pay for this tent for the days that I am out here. So you make the money, but then they go back to these. All we’re saying is that while we’re outside, provide us with the tents. Why didn’t they provide that for us? Are they prepared to help us pay for these tents?

“I want them to come so we can dialogue.”

Secretary of the division Nathisha Charles-Pantin said the division would respond via a press release.