Sascha Wilson

Vendors at the San Fernando Fish Market are complaining that they are now being forced to operate in a confined space with no social distancing and poor facilities.

They made the complaints yesterday after members of the Public Health Department from the San Fernando City Corporation, accompanied by the Municipal police demolished their stalls which were pitched outside of the market at Kings Wharf. They now have to operate from inside the market which is equipped with concrete stalls.

However, San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello said the clean up exercise was conducted after a customer complained to the Public Health Department that a vendor at the market sold her rotten fish.

During the exercise, he said the public health officials seized 70 pounds of rotten shrimp and several old appliances that were used by the vendors as coolers.

Admitting that the market facility is outdated, he said the vendors still have to adhere to proper public health standards and guidelines.

“COVID-19 gives us an opportunity to address public health issues in a very big way beginning with our lifestyle and how we eat,” he said.

Spokesman for the fish vendors, Dhanraj “Bhagi” Ramkissoon complained that they now have to operate in a confirmed space and will not be able to practice social distancing in keeping with the advice of the government and health officials.

“The reason why we vend outside is because we don’t have proper facilities, proper cold storage, proper stalls with running water. The roof is leaking as you can see and the space is very small.”

He said another issue is that the market opens at 4 am and closes by 11.30 am.

Calling for better facilities, he said it is unfair, especially now with the coronavirus, to have customers, vendors, and (fish) cleaners cramped in small space.

He said the facility in house cold storage has not been working since last June, the corporation does not market and there is only one water tank.

“This morning they came so aggressively with backhoe and trucks, if we did not move our things in time they just grab up everything with the health department and throw away everything. The bins being used for ice they take all that and dump it away,” he added.

Admitting that the market was below the required standards, Regrello said that will be addressed as part of the Waterfront Development project. He said if the vendors have a problem they should inform the market clerk.