RADHICA DE SILVA
Ongoing works at the San Fernando waterfront project is causing hardship to fish vendors who say they are losing valuable customers because of unsanitary conditions.
A trench has been dug in front of the market at Kings Wharf and customers have to walk over a shaky board to get into the market. Very few venture across with the majority of people preferring to buy fish from the vendors who set up stalls outside the market.
Leaking water lines also pose a hindrance and vendors say they are fed up with working in a construction zone.
Fish vendor Kevin Nuckcheddie said he has not been getting customers and was finding it difficult to support his family.
“Since this work started customers hardly coming into the market. I have three children to see about. I am trying to understand what is going on. Why are we wasting time here? Let them go on and do the work if they have to do it and let them compensate us for our loss of earnings. We coming here and fighting up every day yet customers not coming in. Then there are people outside the market selling so nobody bothering to come here to buy.”
He said a week ago, a letter was given to vendors but there was no one to explain what was happening.
“I think they said that the construction is going to start but nothing has been done to improve the market. We are here struggling right now. We have to pay for our stall and we are not making any money,” he added.
He said market stall fees still had to be paid.
“They coming here with the police to make sure that we pay. Look at that entrance by the door here, who want to pass here to fall down,” he asked.
Speaking to Guardian Media, the president of the San Fernando Fishing Cooperative Salim Gool said the trench was dug three days ago and they had no information on when it will be fixed or how long it will remain open.
“The situation here is frustrating. We are not stopping the development but the problem here is the contractors are not having any consultation with us. This area from by the tyre shop is a place that has been facilitating people who bring fish from around the country. Now that they have done this, there is no place for people to park to come for their fish. This is affecting the livelihoods of over 10,000 people. There is no longer any place for the fish trucks.”
He said one year ago another trench was dug and it was never repaired.
“They also dig a hole in front of the market. They had no discussion, no coordination and they just come and start to dig,” he added.
He said the water lines were leaking for days and creating slush and mud all around the market.
Under the waterfront project, the market is expected to be refurbished. It had been constructed in 1924 and is one of the historical landmarks of the Wharf.