Caroni vendors say they fear poverty more than a jail cell after they defied police instructions to stop selling their fruits and vegetables near the roundabout.
“If I have to get lock up for selling on the side of the rod, stay inside on the public holiday and go to court on Friday morning, I am willing to do that because I need to make a dollar,” vendor Terrence Gopie told Guardian Media yesterday in the full presence of the Municipal Police officers.
In full view, just a few feet away was a sign that said “no vending,” however, commerce continues at that location which is popular for selling crab and street food. And that’s because vendors there have been given permission by the Tunapuna Piarco Regional Corporation to sell at the location until another one is found by the TPRC.
However, it seems that on Tuesday evening the Municipal Police took their own action.
“Police just pass and tell we rack up and move,” Gopie said.
He and the others packed up for the day but returned yesterday morning.
“I don’t have no other work, if I have to stay home what will I do? I have children writing SEA, I have to pay cable bills so they can do zoom class,” said provision vendor Ramdeo Maharaj.
The police, however, were not moved, asking him to move instead.
Member of Parliament for St Augustine Khadijah Ameen, who visited the scene, along with Kelly Village Councillor Samuel Sankar, tried to explain the position of the regional corporation, which is to allow vending at least for now.
“Sir I am telling you today that these vendors are not moving!” Ameen told a senior officer.
“It appears that only Caroni people are being targeted when all over people making a hustle, why is only Caroni people you all come to move?”
But in the end, no one had to. The police left and the vendors said they would stay where they were because they were trying to earn an honest dollar.
“If they stop us from selling, COVID won’t kill we you know, starvation will because the bills not stopping,” Gopie said.
Guardian Media reached out to TPRC chairman Kwasi Robinson who confirmed that it was indeed the position of the council that the vendors be allowed to operate at that location and other places like the Eddie Hart Savannah in Tacarigua until another location is identified.
However, he did say he could not control the actions of the municipal police.
He said, “I will speak to my CEO to get an update on what happened, it’s really a humanitarian position, I have no problem with the municipal police doing their job however I would have liked to know before about the proposed action so I could at least communicate with the vendors.”
Meanwhile Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith said while these were not TTPS officers, vending where there were signs explicitly stating not to, was against the law and that would be communicated to the Municipal Police and regional corporation.