Siparia vendors complain about state of market

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Siparia Market vendors speak to media outside the premises on Monday. – Marvin Hamilton

Saying they have been losing sales owing to measures implemented by the Siparia Regional Corporation (SRC), several market vendors complained on Monday, calling for outstanding issues to be resolved.

Gaston Baptiste, who has been running a stall at the front of the market for over 40 years, said he said he had been trying to resolve the issues over the years to no avail.

He recalled that no-parking signs were put up on the lay-by road near his stall.

He said the market is deplorable, with rats, dogs, and cats running around. The refrigerators are not working, and there are a lot of electrical issues.

For those reasons, customers are going to shop at other places where parking is available.

Baptiste also accused officials of victimisation and showing favouritism to certain vendors.

He believes people want him out of his spot so that they can get it.

“A lot of us have complaints.

“Five days before Christmas, they put up the signs. So people cannot stop and buy from me,” Baptiste said.

Another vendor, Lucille Dickson said, of the five female toilets, only one is working.

She added that “pipers” are often seen in the male toilets.

Dickson said many vendors did not want to voice their concerns for fear of victimisation.

Contacted for comment, SRC chairman Denish Sankersingh dismissed the vendors’ claims as illegitimate “in nature.”

“As chairman, I am fully aware of what they spoke about. For instance, no-parking signs at the front of the market ensure a proper traffic flow. We cannot allow one vendor, who has a stall there, to allow traffic to build up,” Sankersingh said. “The facility is for everybody, the customers and vendors.

“One person is demanding parking at the front of his stall. His economic needs cannot take priority over the wider concerns.”

He added that the corporation continues to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on the market to ensure it is a first-class facility.

“We cannot have a facility where we fix the toilets on Monday, and by Wednesday the toilets are broken down, and water is flowing all over. It cannot be a situation where we provide basic facilities, but they are being used, abused, and neglected.

“It cannot be that vendors are using the refrigerators as though they are their private properties. The refrigerators are used to store leftover stocks and not to store people’s items.”

The chairman said he is prepared to talk with the vendors to identify and resolve the issues.

Sankersingh also assured that the facility is cleaned properly after every use.

“The market boundary is near the cemetery, so that would be rodents. But we are in full control. We do all that is necessary to protect vendors and their goods.”

The market was closed on Monday and several municipal police were seen at the front of the facility.