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Tuesday 17 September 2019
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THA treating us with disrespect

Tobago vendors vex over market plans

Market produce on display outside the Scarborough market on Wilson Road in Tobago. FILE PHOTO
Market produce on display outside the Scarborough market on Wilson Road in Tobago. FILE PHOTO

“Disrespect!”

This is how vendors at the Scarborough market have described reports indicating that the work at the Wilson Road market is scheduled to be completed at the end of August and they are to relocated in September after the facility is opened that month.

The announcement was made by Hayden Spencer, Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Secretary of Food Production, Forestry and Fisheries, as he addressed members of the media during last Wednesday’s post-Executive Council media briefing in Scarborough.

Spencer said the remodelling of the Scarborough market is nearing completion, adding that the contractor will now focus on minor interior works such as putting up doors and landscaping.

The market, on Wilson Road, is undergoing a $31 million remodelling, which he said is 95 per cent complete.

Many vendors, who chose to speak on the condition of anonymity, said they were not informed of the recent development. However, speaking with Sunday Newsday yesterday, member of the Vendors’ Association and a vendor at the market, Lutchman Persad, said his first encounter with the information was via the media.

“I am not aware of it… the first time I heard of it was through the media, but I am yet to confirm that.

“There is an office at the market here called the market clerk who is the person on site here. Any vendor who wants to find out anything about the facilities and the running of the market, they go to this market clerk. Based on just hearing the information around, I went to the market clerk to find out about it and she said she knows nothing about that,” he said.

Persad labelled this as a disrespect to the vendors at the facilities.

“So, I as the representative on behalf of the vendors have no idea… the market clerk is saying that she has no knowledge of it, so it means that a proper protocol wasn’t followed through and to me that is disrespectful and disheartening.

“I have no problem if the facility is finished and ready for commissioning and to return the vendors, but we who using the facilities, mustn’t be informed of the developments through the media. Let’s sit and chat… the major issue here is communication,” Persad said.

He said earlier this year vendors were invited to a meeting and were on the layout and allowed to make suggestions, but he worries that their views would not be taken into the consideration.

“Even me personally have an issue with certain things, even though we went, we saw stuff and we made suggestions, practically nothing hasn’t really been adhered to. What the contractor said in the presence of the THA officials, is that any altercations to the remodelling will have to be listed in the contract as they have a responsibility to follow the plans outlined in the contract. They said that they could listen in, but they had to go according to the contract.

“Would the specifications and the things mentioned during that meeting be taken into consideration at all. For example… there is an area at the back built for the clothes vendors, even though I like the area built, a shed is still lacking between the booths to offset like if the rain should fall as the heave is too short, rain would blow in and wet up the clothes,” he said, adding that three quarter of the vendors are ready to go back to Wilson Road, while there is still another quarter that are comfortable at the temporary site.

“Me personally, I’m not in support of returning to Scarborough before January.

“I think a January move would give the vendors the chance to enjoy the parking facilities that we have here as in Wilson Road, we don’t have access to such a parking entitlement, especially with the Christmas season already up on us. January is usually very slow, so moving in January would allow for a more gradual move."

However, Persad remains hopeful that prior to the completion during this month, vendors or even the committee members would be able to visit the Wilson Road site and make their necessary alterations.

Contacted for comment, Spencer said: “There are two committees; a committee from the division and one on behalf of the market vendors, they are responsible for bringing the vendors up to date and it is my belief that this would have been done.

“In terms of the meeting with the contractors, there are certain minor changes that can be made on a contract and I think those were taken into consideration… we are now at the stage of completion and all these things would have been taken care of earlier.”

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