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A vendor takes a chance to sell on High Street, San Fernando, yesterday.

President of the San Fernando Greater Area Chamber of Commerce Kiran Singh said the suspension of street vending on High Street came as a surprise.

While he agreed that the number of vendors has tripled since last year, Singh does not support a permanent ban on street vending.

As of yesterday, the San Fernando City Corporation stopped vending until further notice.

Apart from one or two vendors, who were still trying to sell their goods which were in bags or boxes, the pavements were clear of cots and other paraphernalia on Tuesday.

In an interview on Monday, San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello said street vending would resume but he needed a maximum of two weeks to have the issued sorted out.

Regrello said they decided to temporarily halt vending because the vendor population has increased to over 240 since last year.

He complained that the pavements were overrun with cots and other paraphernalia and the vendors were not following the rules. Last year when vending was allowed for three days per week, he said the vendors numbered approximately 61.

Singh admitted that there have been challenges with the vendors. “The number of vendors have certainly increased trifold within the last few months, they are taking advantage of a situation where they were given certain allowances. But we believe the vendors who are doing this come from outside the southern area and they are taking advantage of the good graces of the city council to allow a certain number of vendors on the streets.”

However, he said vendors also have to earn a living and maintain their families.

“Vending is what we can describe as a necessary evil if I can use that phrase. In any city, it is a global trend, it is not only isolated to Trinidad and Tobago but globally. We have vending in all major cities in the world. What happens is that we have to find ways to work with the vendors. There are challenges yes but the vendors all have a case to make where they are challenged and they have to live.”

Singh is hoping to meet with the mayor and the vending association in the coming days to carve out a solution.