Unruly crowds may force Marabella market closure

A police officer controls the amount of people entering the Marabella market on Sunday morning.   - Angelo Marcelle
A police officer controls the amount of people entering the Marabella market on Sunday morning. - Angelo Marcelle

THE SAN Fernando City Corporation is considering temporarily shutting down the Marabella market after police had to break up unruly crowds in breach of the health regulations on Sunday morning.

San Fernando mayor Junia Regrello and head of the Municipal Police Cecil Santana, along with 15 officers from both the city and the TTPS, spent hours at the market trying to manage hundreds of irate customers.

Regrello said after a similar situation the previous Sunday, a meeting was held with vendors and wholesalers last Tuesday and it was agreed that the market will be opened from 7 am to 2 pm because of the 9 pm to 5 am curfew.

He said it was agreed wholesalers would get a section on one side of the market to distribute their goods.

“We put tents, railings, markers so customers would be socially distanced. This morning (Sunday) the line was really, really long, going around a corner and people were just huddling like we are not in a pandemic, wearing their masks under their nose. How do you get them to adhere to the regulations?” Regrello asked.

He added: “Officer Santana was there shouting to the top of his voice to get them to comply. There is a public address system at the market and we were telling the people to shop quickly and leave the market.

“Some of them were insisting we open the four gates. If we opened the four gates there would be further chaos. We opened two for entry and two for exit, monitoring the crowd.

“While ten and 15 were going in, only five were coming out so there was always a surplus of bodies inside the market.”

Regrello said based on what they observed for the past two Sundays, “We may have to regulate or shut down one of the markets.”

The city has two markets, one in Marabella which facilitates Sunday shopping and the other on Mucurapo Street which caters for the Saturday shoppers. He said that problem does not exist at the Mucurapo Street market.

“Because San Fernando has a different culture. There is something about Marabella which has a variety of products and gives the impression that you are getting better purchasing directly.

“Port of Spain has one market, we have two. We may have to shut down one or alternate the vendors because people are too indisciplined. They just don’t care.”

Regrello said there will be a meeting on Tuesday with the CEO and the police.

“We will find out what are the issues, identify the problems, and based on our recommendations we would again meet with the vendors.”

Commenting on the arrest of ten people on the weekend by the southern division for breaching the state of emergency and consuming alcohol in a public space, Regrello said, “It is a reflection of further indiscipline.

“If we want to be like where the USA is right now we have to be prepared to make some serious sacrifices. Stay at home,” he appealed to citizens, saying the police will be out in full force on the public holidays this week during the daylight curfew.


"Unruly crowds may force Marabella market closure"

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