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Market uproar

Tim Slinger

Market uproar

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That’s how fish vendors at the Bridgetown Fisheries Complex reacted yesterday after health authorities unexpectedly closed the market for a general cleaning.
The operation by the market’s quality control division sparked controversy after a handwritten memorandum was posted in the market announcing the closure.
Vernelle Nicholls, president of the Fisherfolk Association, criticised the decision and accused the market’s management of not giving adequate notice to vendors.
“I am concerned about the way this shutdown was done when no prior notice had been given,” she told the NATION.
Nicholls said what also made matters worse was the unavailability of ice to freeze fish.
“Our product (fish) is not durable and when appropriate notice is not given, it could leave fish vendors in the cold with the possibility of their fish spoiling.
“You just can’t walk into a market and say you are closing the market because it wants cleaning. That high-handed behaviour cannot work,” she added.
Vendor Patricia Mapp, while conceding that the market’s surroundings were in a questionable state, blamed the situation on a shortage of staff to do the cleaning.
Other vendors also charged that recent lay-offs in the Public Service had reduced the market staff and, as a result, the work was too challenging for just a few cleaners to do.
“This market is a big place and no two or three people can clean it properly,” one irate vendor said.
“We want the minister to come down here and hear the people’s views,” added another.
“It was a surprise something, there wasn’t any notice or so, but these things will always happen to the vendors because there’s no proper representation,” Adrian Wiltshire said.
Efforts to obtain an official comment from market management proved futile, but a source said the problem of cleaning the facility was the result of recent staff lay-offs in the general workers’ section.
According to the source, only five of 14 original staff remained following the terminations. As a result, the thorough cleaning of the fish market was proving to be a challenge.
Just recently, both the Bridgetown Fisheries Complex and the Oistins Fish Market came under the scrutiny of health officials with the removal and banning of a number of supermarket-style trolleys, which authorities charged were found to be contaminated with bacteria.
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