It was only 10 am but vendors at the Siparia Market were already bagging their produce, hoping that last-minute deals would entice customers to buy out their goods.
For some vendors, the food they grew or purchased wholesale was rotting away as decreasing demands at the market took a toll on their revenue.
Vendor Desmond Jack said the market has a lot of food now as the economy slows with the lockdown of most business activities amidst the spike in COVID-19 infections.
“There is a lot of food that is wasting like pine, sweet potato and cassava. I think if the Government is building processing plants, we need to put that into action to save a lot of food in this country from going to waste,” Jack said yesterday.
With hardly any customers around, Jack sat at the side of his stall, hoping for a last-minute sale before he packed his goods away. He said Trinidad had turned into a nation of hustlers as people lose their jobs as the months go by. He said the situation has led to many people selling various items on the roadside to earn bread but makes competition harder for bonafide vendors.
“Sales depend on customers and seeing that the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting people East, West, North and South, what you get is people staying away from the market. Regular customers who are accustomed to coming, with the crowds, are avoiding the market. They are buying more at stores and at the side of the roadways where the crowd is less, so the sales have drastically dropped in the market at present,” he said.
Jack said if people do not know how to eat little and live long, they will not survive this time. He said that with the dip in the oil dollars coming with the closure of Petrotrin in 2018, COVID-19 is compounding the country’s economic woes.
Julie Ramraj agreed, saying that slow market sales were due to the COVID-19 restrictions. However, she said vendors are also concerned about their safety and do not want large crowds.
Pradeep Lalsieu meanwhile wanted the authorities to grant market vendors an additional hour before curfew ends to set up their stalls.
“When the curfew ends at 5 am, the vendors and the consumers come in at the same time at the market. The vendors are not getting enough time to pack out their goods. They have to pack out their goods and sell them at the same time. We are asking if we can get an hour ahead so we will not have this crowd in the market at 5 am,” Lalsieu said.
At the Marabella market, where there were large gatherings last week, more police officers were out for the Sunday sale yesterday. The officers ensured customers lined up and there was sufficient distancing.