Prices for roti and doubles may go up

Story by SHASTRI BOODAN

Doubles vendors warn that the price of doubles may well be going up in the next week.

The warning comes in the wake of their complaints that prices for the basic ingredients for T&T’s favourite street food, have shot up in the last six weeks.

Popular Couva doubles vendor, Shayam Mohammed, told Guardian Media that the last six weeks have been disastrous for the industry, as the country was under stay-at-home orders for the COVID-19 pandemic. He said many persons involved in the doubles making process remained out of work and are yet to get any unemployment grant.

Shayam Mohammed said returning to serve the public would be difficult, since mobile doubles vendors, who operate out of the back of a van, may have to get their vehicles repaired and mechanics and tyre shops have been closed. He said some vendors have expired insurance and are not able to operate.

The doubles vendor also points out that ingredients such as split peas, channa and flour have seen their prices escalate, and it would be difficult for vendors who retail doubles at $4 to remain afloat.

However, Shayam Mohammed gave assurances that if he comes out to work this week, he would be following the strict protocols set down by the authorities for persons handling food. He said customers who insist on breaking the line or making nuisances of themselves, would not be served.  

Darrien Penco from Vanessa’s Kitchen engages in sanitising of the premises, as they prepare for resumption of business, this week. (Image: SHASTRI BOODAN)

Meanwhile, roti shop owners say they were not as fortunate as larger establishments to get information that the ban would be lifted on Monday.

Speaking with Guardian Media, Darrien Penco, spokesman for Vanessa’s Kitchen at Cacandee Road in Felicity, said they have moved immediately to start clean-up operations and restocking.

Penco told us that had the announcement been made on Friday, small food vendors would have had ample time to restock and clean up.

The Vanessa’s Kitchen spokesman assured that his facility would be thoroughly sanitized by one crew, while another would be tasked with restocking the business.

Like Shayam Mohammed, Darrien Penco told us the last few weeks of stay-at-home orders have dealt a terrible blow to him and the three employees who work at Vanessa’s kitchen.

He revealed that no-one applied for the relief grants because they found the application process challenging. He also said they received little or no assistance from their local government representatives. 

“We held it together and we took it day by day, until now,” Penco told Guardian Media.

The Vanessa’s Kitchen team is expected to offer a limited menu and consumers would have the option of a pick-up service.

Darrien Penco also reports they have seen a hike in food prices: dhal or split peas prices reportedly went up from $280 to just under $600 per 100 pounds; while garlic prices rose from $150 to $280 for a 25 pound bag.

Penco said his business would be operating at a very low profit margin for the foreseeable future.

A Vanessa’s Kitchen employee prepares the kitchen utensils for resumption of business, this week. (Image: SHASTRI BOODAN)