Food Production Secretary Hayden Spencer says no date has been set for market vendors at the Scarborough market on Wilson Road to move to the newly built temporary facility at Shaw Park.
Describing information that the vendors were on Tuesday told that they must move by this Saturday as ‘mischief,’ Spencer told Newsday Tobago on Tuesday that no date has been confirmed for the relocation because the persons in charge of the temporary market were yet to meet with representatives of the vendor’s committee.
“Somebody is making mischief. The whole idea is for the oversight committee of the Division to meet with the interim committee (of vendors) to discuss and come up with a date for the move. There is no arrangement yet because we are yet to meet with the interim committee that represents the vendors and the oversight committee for the temporary market.
“I met with the oversight committee on Monday and I instructed them to make the necessary arrangements, communicate with the (vendors) interim committee to set up a date so that we can meet.
“It is time that we meet with the vendors and discuss whatever date is comfortable to them, but this has not been done just yet,” he said.
“I am hoping that we can start the moving process very soon, because it is time to wrap this up, we have been struggling with this for too long. I want to discuss with them like a two-weekend deadline, time to get this out the way.
Spencer’s comments followed a protest meeting by the vendors inside the Scarborough market earlier in the day, about a reported four days’ deadline, until Saturday, to move to the newly constructed Shaw Park facility.
The vendors, who were joined by Minority Leader Watson Duke, told reporters that an official from the Food Production had visited them that morning and told them that they must vacate the Scarborough market by Saturday. They wanted more time to make the transition, particularly with Mother’s Day being celebrated on Sunday. The vendors said that they did state this concern to the officials but were ignored with the instruction being given for them to move by Saturday.
Produce vendor Alvin Felix said he was first told he has two weeks to relocate his goods to the new location, but was then told on Tuesday that he must relocate within four days.
““It’s hard for us to move by Mother’s Day where people come to do extra shopping but if they want to start breaking down by this Sunday, it’s not good enough for us, give us more time.”
Another produce vendor, Eglah Roach Adams, said the vendors went to the new building on Monday evening to see the market stalls and other facilities. She said she had no problems with the temporary facility but wanted more time to move.
Another vendor, Jennifer Noel, said she was concerned about the lack of communication from the Division. Noel said Spencer promised to meet with them to discuss a new date, so she was very much surprised when the Division’s official instructed them on Tuesday morning that they must move by this Saturday.
Some vendors were also concerned about the space they were allocated at the temporary market.
Vendor Anthony Craig said he cannot operate his DVD business cannot operate in the small space allocated to him. “I did highlight my issues to the authorities and they keep saying the government has no money and I said if you don’t have money, give me a spot to build my own place. I don’t mind moving to Shaw Park, but I need something to conduct my business,” he said.
Spencer told Newsday Tobago that he had met with representatives of the vendors’ committee to discussed details about space, and that stalls at the temporary facility were larger than those in the (current) market.”
He said vendors with illegal structures outside the Scarborough market were the ones opposing the relocation.
Meanwhile Duke, saying that he would engage legal counsel to help the vendors get more time to move, also said the Food Production Division must provide the vendors with a monthly medical check-up.
“There is a gas station nearby and they haven’t test the level of the gas. I want to recommend that all vendors receive a monthly industrial exam to see if their pulmonary system is up and running as a 12-year-old because these are aged people, they can die from the inhalation of gas. I can say Chemistry, Foods and Drugs are not testing these goods so they cannot say if there are chemicals in the goods not,” he said.