THE managing director of Gopaul Electronics and Princess Cosmetics Suresh Ramdhan said he has no choice but to move out of High Street, San Fernando. On Sunday, Ramdhan was spotted emptying the shelves from his stores.
Police, he said, stopped him a week ago from selling essential products such as hand sanitisers, toiletries, tooth-paste and drugs for the common cold.
“Police told me that it is illegal to sell my over-the-counter drugs because I do not have a license to sell pharmaceuticals.” Ramdhan said in his opinion, he is being victimized by the police since a major cosmetics store within the same area, also does not have a pharmacy yet are allowed to open during covid19.
“I pay for a licence to operate my business at the San Fernando City Corporation,” he said. The question remains, he said, why ask me to close and allow the bigger company to remain open? His establishment employs 24 people at Princess Cosmetics and Gopaul Electronics. All workers were sent home a month ago because of covid19.
“They all at home without a salary and I am hoping that the National Insurance Board of TT will act swiftly and send cheques to these people who cannot afford to buy food and pay their rent at this time,” Ramdhan stated.
He said that he opened his businesses in San Fernando 30 years, during which time he developed a huge customer-base selling electronics parts and services as well as women’s items, and cosmetics on the whole at the lowest prices.
“Since the Couva/Macaulay taxi stand moved to the top of High Street where my shops are located, I have had many issues as the drivers call the police and make reports whenever my trucks come in with goods for off-loading,” he said.
There are lots of pensioners and other customers who depend on him, he said, for the supply of batteries for their hearing aid as well as blood pressure machines and other health products.
Ramdhan said the police warned him that he is not sanitising customers before they enter the store which he said was false as he provided sanitisers for everyone.
Ramdhan said he spoke to the San Fernando mayor, Junia Regrello on many occasions about the issues affecting his businesses but nothing has happened. “The mayor gives little consideration to the business community in San Fernando during covid19,” he said.
He said operating a business in TT is becoming very difficult as he sacrifices to come out on a Sunday when the streets are clear and the police intervene and asked him to find parking elsewhere. “My question is – What the corporation is doing about this situation? Why are they no yellow tags for parking for trucks carrying merchandise?” he asked.
Ramdhan said he can no longer take the pressures of operating his businesses on High Street and he will definitely be moving to another location in due course. Calls to Mayor Regrello’s phone for comment went unanswered on Sunday.