Princes Town market vendors hold up vegetables as they protest yesterday against a decision to close the market to undertake repairs to the facility.

Princes Town market vendors protested yesterday, calling on the regional corporation to delay repair work to the facility until after Christmas.

The vendors were told last week that they would have to vacate the market and sell on the street in front of the facility while the project, which was scheduled to start on November 1, is ongoing.

But the vendors complained that they would lose sales.

Brian Francois, who has been selling at the market since he was a teenager, said they have been experiencing a drop in sales due to the pandemic.

“What we are simply asking is if you need to have repairs done on the market, this is Divali time and Christmas is not too far, give us this time. And January or February, when the proverbial “banga season” comes in, you could go about doing your repairs, which I think is quite reasonable,” said Francois.

Another vendor, Shamin Ramoutar, added, “It have some vendors here who solely depend on this and it is very hard for us to be out in the rain and the sun. Some have vehicles who could take home their goods to and from morning and evening and some have no transport.”

Also concerned about the inclement weather, she said it would cost them $100 a day to rent a tent. They were also concerned that the project would take more than a month to complete.

Ramoutar said some time ago, repairs were done to another area of the market and it was closed for months.

While officials from the Princes Town Regional Corporation met with them last week, she said their concerns were not taken into consideration.

Corporation chairman Gowrie Roopnarine, who was at the market, explained that the $500,000 contract was awarded by the Central Tenders Board and has to be completed within a certain time.

However, he agreed to push back the project to November 5, the day after Divali, to accommodate the vendors.

Expressing disappointment with the action taken by the vendors, he said councillor Latchmi Narine Ramdhan, chairman of market and vending, and other corporation employees had met with them and they agreed to relocate.

Ramdhan said the previous project, which involved roof repairs, took several months to complete because of the COVID-19 restrictions and the inclement weather.

But Ramdhan said the current project involved tiling and other internal repairs and the contractor would be working seven days a week to ensure it is completed in time. Roopnarine, who subsequently met with the vendors, assured he would do everything possible to ensure the repairs are completed within the time frame.