They have waited 20 years for a new market and now that the $10 million temporary Marabella market is ready for opening, hundreds of vendors are threatening to boycott the facility. Vendors who are accustomed to selling under dilapidated, leaking sheds with no toilets or cold storage said the new market was inappropriate to their needs. President of the Marabella Market Association, Vishnu Pancham, said the market sheds were too small, the stalls were sub-standard and the sheds already were flooding. During a meeting with vendors yesterday, Pancham said the new facility could only hold 120 vendors. At present the association logged 300 registered and 200 roadside vendors, Pancham said.
He added that the old market had no lights and limited space but it was still better than the new “cowsheds” which the Government built. “It is better they leave us here. We not going to occupy that market. It is not suitable,” Pancham said. Another vendor, Denise Haynes, said the San Fernando City Corporation planned on charging each vendor $30 a month. However, she said, the stalls could not accommodate the quantity of goods vendors normally sold. Vice president of the association, Tim Bhagwandeen, said each stall measured four feet by six feet. “They telling us that some of us can set up our tents and stalls in the car park but that is not a covered area,” he added, Contacted yesterday, Local Government Minister Dr Suruj Rambachan, said he understood the vendors’ concerns and would move speedily to rectify the problems.
He said the new facility was only temporary and a new state-of-the art market would be constructed in due course. He added: “The availability of proper markets, proper hygiene with proper facilities for vendors are high on my list of priorities. “This is because vendors are contributing to economic development. They are self-employed people and are contributing to employment. They must be respected and given value. “It is worthy to note that at present, the Penal market is being upgraded along with the Chaguanas market. The Siparia market is being constructed at cost of $50 million. “The San Juan market is nearing completion and upgrades are intended for Tunapuna. A new market is already designed for Arima,” he said. Rambachan said he would hold discussions with the authorities to make provisions for the Marabella vendors.