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St James’ sweet tooth rats

SASHA HARRINANAN Wednesday, November 14 2012

ST JAMES has a rat problem but market vendors and residents have objected to the solution put forth by Port-of-Spain Mayor, Louis Lee Sing, to eradicate the pests. The plan, 18 months in the making according to the mayor, would see vendors at the St James Market, located on the Western Main Road, sharing space with food vendors who normally ply their trade on the sidewalks of Western Main Road.

Unhappy with this move, which Newsday understands was supposed to have gone into effect on October 31, several market vendors staged a protest outside the market at about 7 am on Monday. A man told reporters, “we didn’t get a letter or anything about this. The market was not designed for people who cooking and selling food.”

Lee Sing disagreed with this, telling Newsday his plan would serve two purposes, reducing the number of rats which feed off of discarded food along the sidewalks of Western Main Road, while making full use of the St James Market seven days a week.

“The rats in St James have developed a sweet tooth. They no longer eat the rodent bait the City Corporation sets out for them. They prefer the doubles, jerk chicken, roti and pholourie which the street vendors sell on the sidewalks.

“The market can accommodate 31 persons, but there are a mere six stalls in use on a regular basis. I can’t be carrying the cost of running the St James market when only a handful of people are using it. That’s why I’m re-locating the market vendors to the back and the street vendors to the front of the ground floor,” the PoS Mayor stated.

He noted the other benefit of his plan — far fewer rats scurrying all over Western Main Road. “This would make it much easier to track and exterminate these rodents, when they are seeking food from one location rather than roaming all over.”

Newsday spoke with several residents yesterday afternoon about the pending re-location of the popular street food stalls to the St James Market. None of them welcomed the idea, expressing serious doubt about the willingness of drivers to park somewhere and walk to the market to buy food. One man said, “Nobody going to park down the street and walk back up to the market just to get doubles or a roti. People going to lose real money if the Mayor moves them from the sidewalk.”

Another man told Newsday, “the stalls in there too small for people to cook roti properly. Not enough counter space. The place will be real congested if Lee Sing puts everybody in there.”

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