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Salvatori vendors get reprieve

Wednesday, September 3 2014

click on pic to zoom in
Vendors Denise Thomas, centre, and Gail Sayres thank Housing Minister Dr Roodial Moonilal after a meeting at which he agreed to allow them an extensio...
Vendors Denise Thomas, centre, and Gail Sayres thank Housing Minister Dr Roodial Moonilal after a meeting at which he agreed to allow them an extensio...

After a week of protests, the vendors at the former Salvatori Building site, Port-of-Spain, have been granted an extension to use the facility until January 2, 2015.

Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal announced the extension at a press conference at the ministry’s South Quay office.

The vendors received notice late last week that they had to vacate the site at midnight on August 31. However, they said that they were not going to leave until the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (Udecott) found another space for them because they could not return to selling on the streets and risk having their goods seized by police.

Moonilal and Udecott chairman, Jearlean John, yesterday met with three representatives of the vendors to hear their concerns.

Speaking with reporters after the meeting, Moonilal said the site had been identified for the construction of an energy tower, which would be the central focal point for the energy agencies in Trinidad and Tobago.

He said they made a commitment to the vendors before that they will be allowed to stay on the site until Udecott is ready to begin infrastructural and scientific work on the location. However, he said there was still a lot of work to be done before that takes place.

“There are several processes to undertake again including full Cabinet approval for the project and approvals from statutory authorities and bodies, including Town and Country Planning, TTEC and WASA. Jearlean John has assured us that the design work and the technical work continues, but it will not be necessary to have possession of the site immediately. In those circumstances we have allowed the vendors to continue vending,” he said.

He told the vendors after January 2, there will not be any further extensions because by then Udecott will be prepared for the scientific and technical work that has to be done on the site. Moonilal said this three month period will allow the Port-of-Spain Regional Corporation and the Ministry of Local Government to work on finding an adequate and alternative site for the vendors to continue plying their trade.

One vendor, Gail Sayres, thanked Moonilal and John for granting them the extension. Another vendor, Steve Fletcher, knelt outside the ministry with arms outstretched. He thanked God and shouted that nothing was possible without Him.

He then walked quickly to the other vendors who were patiently waiting to learn of the outcome of the meeting. He shouted to them to unpack their goods, as they were given another extension. One woman shouted, “Thank God” and others smiled and laughed and hugged each other after hearing the news.

“I could not sleep with all this happening, I am just glad that we get to stay until after Christmas,” one vendor said.

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