New restrictions at the Marabella market have left vendors and customers in an uproar.
Mandated to prevent the spread of COVID- 19, the San Fernando City Corporation has imposed strict guidelines that anyone entering the market must wash their hands.
Two gates were padlocked and two others were opened up to allow customers to filter to the market in an orderly fashion after washing their hands over the weekend.
From as early as 8 am on Saturday, scores of people lined up outside the market waiting to get in as police manned the gates.
But vendor Ria Khelawan said the arrangements were done in an ad-hoc manner without any consultation.
“Right now we are stressed because all these gates are closed and we have one entrance and one to exit and a long line. If we offload we have to go on that side, we have customers who are not well and they have to make all those rounds. We are pleading with them to open,” she said.
She noted that as early as 4 am, scores of vendors had lined up to offloads goods but the loading bay was too small.
“We were not prepared for this. We were not consulted by the market clerk. Tomorrow we have no market and we pleading with them to be fair with us,” she said.
Another vendor Esau Ragbir said he had no problems with the new sanitation arrangements but felt vendors should have been alerted.
He said he had 1,000 pounds of plantain to sell and did not know where to go.
“ I don’t know what to do with that plantain because tomorrow there is no market. If an emergency takes place here it will be chaos because there is only two access,” Esau said.
But San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello said the new arrangements had to be put in place quickly to safeguard the public.
“We are not unreasonable. It is difficult to manage this. If we have four entrances, that’s an opportunity for more people to congregate. We are considering next week to put another sink in this area and open the gate for them to come early. We may also open another exit gate,” he said.
Regrello said they would also provide a space for Essau to sell at the San Fernando market on Sunday.
“We are mandated by the government to deal with this and to ensure that we uphold social distancing,” he said.