Over two years ago, the Kitty Market vendors were removed from their stalls to facilitate repairs to the dilapidating building, but are yet to return, since the market is still under construction. Fed-up by the constant delays, the vendors and representatives from the political Opposition staged a picketing exercise demanding answers and a speedy completion of the market.
Last Monday, Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan paid a visit to the market and pledged an additional $25 million to complete the project.
Due to the unavailability of funds and materials, City Hall approached the Communities Ministry for assistance since the first phase of the works is about 70 per cent complete for the upper flat and 45 per cent for the lower flat.
Vendor Annette Singh, who was displaced to the roadside, said the sanitary facility is in a deplorable state since the washrooms do not have running water and women often contract infections when they use the toilet.
“We don’t have proper facility with the cleaning, we have garbage here for weeks and weeks and no one cleans it. They (City Hall) have a cleaner does come but he don’t clean out here. We does have to clean our own garbage, sweep everything, they are getting paid to do nothing,” she said.
Singh said she has been vending at the Kitty Market for over 26 years and because of the relocation, she has lost a number of customers resulting in her business suffering, forcing her to downsize.
“We lost a lot of customers. They (City Hall) are not saying anything to us and when the Ministers come they just go upstairs and they don’t come and speak to vendors,” the disgruntled vendor stated.
The vendors said they are not hearing anything from City Hall’s administration and noted that they are being forced to pay rental for the unoccupied stalls in the market. The vendors have to pay a rental fee of $300 per day for weekdays and $600 on weekends.
“They charging us for the monthly rent in there and out here too and that is unfair because we have to stay in the sun and the rain. They start this market so long and put us on the pave and people passing and telling us all kind of thing but where will we go,” another vendor, Zaman, noted.
Joining the protest, People’s Progressive Party Member of Parliament (MP), Juan Edghill said the continuous plugging on money into the market’s rehabilitation is questionable.
“I am lending solidarity with the people of Kitty and more so the vendors of the Kitty Market. We have to put in perspective, this seems to be a new cash cow, how much has already been spent? $240 million already gone, the Minister comes around and said he is going to put in another $25 million. When will this market be finished?” Edghill questioned.
He added that Government only acts when leadership is provided by the Opposition, hence the reason for them joining the vendors.
“The vendors have been removed they have to sell on the ground. They are displaced; they have to pay for stalls that are not occupied just to keep their space in the market. When are they going to be able to move back into the market, when are they going to get access to the stalls they are paying for, when the citizens will have access to the Kitty Market, how much more money would be spent?” he further questioned.
The MP stated that the visit by Minister Bulkan was a mere publicity stunt to distract from the real issues at the market.
During Minister Bulkan’s visit to the market, Assistant City Engineer, Rasheed Kellman said he envisions the new Kitty Market to have a “supermarket arrangement” where the products are nicely packaged and displayed.
“We’re hoping to have a supermarket arrangement where the meat is nicely portioned and packaged and placed in freezers. We don’t want to be operating in the same manner when this market is finished. So we don’t want vendors to have the meat hanging in the stalls exposed to flies and the elements,” Kellman is quoted as saying by the Communities Ministry.
The scope of works include the construction of 15 external stalls, the sanitary block and the administrative office, inclusive of a revenue collection section, the Ministry said.
The new contract for the rehabilitation was awarded to BML Construction Services.