Sanitation of Scarborough market extended, vendors upset

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Scarborough vendors sell their goods under tents in the facility’s carpark on Friday as santitation efforts take place inside the facility for the past ten days. Photo by David Reid

Scarborough vendors are calling for better arrangements to be put in place after sanitation efforts forced the Scarborough market to be closed for almost ten days. Vendors say the lack of suitable accommodation in the interim is hurting their pockets.

On July 27, the THA Division of Food Security, Natural Resources, the Environment and Sustainable Development said that the market would be closed for sanitisation until August 1. However, the division later added that it would remain closed beyond August 1 as the sanitisation process exceeded the initial estimated period.

Up to Thursday, the facility remained closed with vendors saying they have not had any update from officials.

Lutchman Persad, a member of the vendors’ association, told Newsday that the facility has been closed for “too long.”

He said, “If they can’t allow us back inside as yet, they should at least make some kind of arrangement that would allow us to use the facility in Shaw Park in the interim. If not, they should provide some tents for us.”

He said the Shaw Park facility was a suitable option as it had toilet facilities, parking and proper sheds.

“It would cost the government less money to house us there temporarily. If that plan fails, they should provide us with tents and outdoor toilet facilities in the meantime.”

In an unofficial arrangement, some of the vendors have taken up spaces at the nearby Victor E Bruce Financial Complex carpark.

“This is the closest point to where we operate from. This cannot go on extensively – Friday and Saturday is already a different level of operation than the rest of the week.”

He added: “Initially, they had said two days, but they said that when they went in, they realised the place had a build-up of cockroaches so the initial lockdown wasn’t enough to eradicate them, so they decided to do a deeper clean. Now they are still saying that it isn’t under control still.”

He said some vendors have decided to remain home until the facility is reopened.

Secretary of the division Nathisha Charles-Pantin addressed the delay in reopening. “The safety is important as this is food-related,” she said. Charles-Pantin said she is working with health officials to see how quickly the market can be reopened.

She said that Shaw Park was not an option.

On Tobago Updates programmne on Wednesday, the division’s food technologist, Melissa Agbeko-Walker, said its marketing department has a responsibility to maintain and have proper facilities for its various stakeholders. She said in facilitating that, there is the need to ensure that the facilities that are provided are maintained in a proper condition.

“When things aren’t done in a particular timing – when cleaning isn’t done when it’s scheduled to be, what happens is that with different pests you can have harbourage areas. If regular cleaning and sanitising is not done, then we can have an issue.”

She said cleaning and sanitisation where food is concerned is very important.

“Cleaning is a pre-step to sanitising, and sanitising actually supports your cleaning efforts. What cleaning does and why it is necessary for the market is that it removes dirt, it removes dust, it removes food particles which are present in the atmosphere. Cleaning actually removes those visible particles that can become lodged and if not removed can become an issue and they can actually become a food source for these different pests if they are not removed in a timely manner.”

Sanitising, she said, supports these cleaning efforts as it removes “those things that we cannot see with our naked eyes.”

She said in this regard, the division is guided by the public health regulations and officials.

She added: “We know that we are dealing with people’s livelihoods, and we do empathise with them because we do understand that they have been out of their regular space for a while, so we are doing everything in our power to try to get them back into a safe space. We don’t want to rush the process; it has to be done properly.”