BUSINESS owners and vendors in Marabella are bracing for a severe cut in profits on the heels of Tuesday’s announcement of the imminent closure of Petrotrin’s refinery. The move would result in over 2000 workers being on the breadline.
Marabella is a bustling commercial centre located on either side of the Old Southern Main Road next to Pointe-a-Pierre, the home base of Petrotrin.
The area is known for round-the-clock activity with its many restaurants, bars, groceries, variety stores, hardware and furniture stores and vendors selling a wide variety of fast foods and fruits to cater to the needs of the oil company’s workforce and other customers.
Alim Amin is the longest surviving business owner in Marabella. He runs a variety store and a floral business. He said his father owned the first store close to 90 years ago. He recalls at that time Texaco was the company in charge of the refinery and drilling operations. His family members own the well-known Amin’s roti shop and other businesses in the area.
Amin said the refinery’s closure will have a huge impact not just on Marabella and the nearby communities, but the entire country. “It’s a disaster, it will really affect us in Marabella, it will affect employment, it will affect sales. We get a lot of orders from Petrotrin, especially with the fresh flowers.”
A short distance away, owner of the popular Belle Bagai Bar, Roxanne Williams lamented that business is already slow, and believes the situation will only get worse.
Fruit seller Sandra Ramesar, who has been plying her trade for over 20 years near the roundabout in Pointe-a-Pierre, said her business will be severely affected. As she skilfully cut a coconut for a waiting truck driver, Ramesar said the news shocked her. “What we going to do now? Petrotrin workers are our main customers. They come in the morning and buy fruits and they come back lunchtime to buy drinks. I thought they would have come to some agreement, not send everybody home.”
Sandal vendor, Kenneth Bobas who sells close to the Marabella market had a more ominous warning. “Uncertainty in the air. People bawling. It so close to Christmas. People will be waiting outside the groceries to raff (grab) people’s bags when they come out. When you lay off so much people, you could expect anything. People who never take up a gun might take up one now to rob.”
Doubles vendors Diahann and Elizabeth said they are already experiencing a drop in sales.