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Jul 5, 2011

Wholesale vendors irate about poor and wet conditions

Flooding is a usual occurrence during the rainy season and Monday night’s torrents caused many parts of the old capital to be affected by the downpour. One particular group that has been confined to the streets, the wholesale fruit and vegetable vendors, are steaming mad with the Belize City Council about the poor conditions. News Five’s Andrea Polanco reports on the latest dilemma on the outskirts of the Finnegan Market.

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The vendors operating on Hicatee Street were affected by rains that started on Monday night and continued through the morning. The flooding situation brought to light the health hazards caused by an inadequate drainage system.

Oscar Pollard, Sr. Secretary, Farmers-Vendors Association

Oscar Pollard

“Approximately just an hour ago before we called your office the water was much more than this. Let’s say if we get a rain for three hours it will be impossible to utilize this area. So what we are saying is that we need to move from this area and we need to find another place.”

Andrea Polanco

“You’d like to see this area cleared out permanently?”

Oscar Pollard

“Yes that is exactly what is happening, this culvert right here needs to be cleaned out, the entire drain need to be cleaned out and raise the street a bit by fulling. These issues need to be addressed if you’re talking about healthy conditions as was mentioned about Mr. Willoughby that Ministry of Health don’t want vendors selling on the ground, these needs to be addressed because it is totally unhealthy at this point in time.”

Last month the vendors signed an MOU with the City Council for the use of this area. But today the association is dissatisfied with the how the situation progressed.  The secretary of the group says that the City Council failed to on their end of the bargain.

Oscar Pollard

“We have discussed with Mr. Willoughby and he had agreed that they will upgrade this area by filling, they will clear the drain and with that in mind we agreed to pay the fifteen dollars per vehicle. But to date tomorrow which is Wednesday which will be the sixth, will be the fourth Wednesday and nothing done. And at this point in time as you can see this is only a small rain that comes and look at the condition of the area.”

As a result, fruits and Vegetables can be seen floating in the dirty water and garbage that have accumulated on Hicatee Street. The loss of produce is also compounded by poor consumer turnout.

Benjamin Franco, Vendor

Benjamin Franco

“The rain di ker everything, di ker pineapple, di ker plantain, when the rain come. So much rain you can’t sell pahn the street, the ‘kinnel’ get flooded and can’t sell, can’t sell like that. But yuh can’t sell like that mami. This morning lotta rain, whole night suh you can’t sell like that because it ker everything. Everything look dirty , dirty, dirty mami. Suh cycle can’t pass and people nuh wah come buy pahn the waata. Too much waata.”

Andrea Polanco

“Suh business slow todeh?”

Benjamin Franco

“Slow, slow, mami. Nuh sell nothing today. Everything I got, I got everything inna the truck si di truck deh cause nobody, people nuh come fu buy.”

Rigoberto Vaca

Rigoberto Vaca, a vendor and V.P of the association, says that a loss in produce translates to an economic loss.

Rigoberto Vaca, Vice President- Farmers-Vendors Association

“More or less four hundred dollars.”

Andrea Polanco

“So, what are you going to do with your produce at the end of the day?”

Rigoberto Vaca

“Well this one I can’t sell that, dat nuh healthy, dat nuh healthy ma’am. In my heart I nuh wah sell that because I nuh want no people di get sick.”

However, this morning the President of the Association says that he was informed on a short-term plan for the vendors.

Alvin Hyde, President, Farmers-Vendors Association

Alvin Hyde

“Me and Mr. Murillo talk,  ih seh that umm ih wah try find the vendors weh own these vehicles on the side yah  and then we wah relocate them and put them pahn dis side ah di ‘kinnel’ nuh until we go further from there.”

Andrea Polanco

“So that is just a temporary arrangement?”

Alvin Hyde

“Yes uh huh so we suppose to meet and discuss things probably a next day or two from now.”

But for these vendors, a temporary re-location isn’t the solution, they say they are paying fifteen dollars per day and that doesn’t include any shed or protection from the rain.

Ernesto Tzib

Ernesto Tzib, Vendor

“They charge us more, fifteen dollars they charge fu dis street.”

Andrea Polanco

“Suh ih definitely nuh worth it?”

Ernesto Tzib, Vendor


Andrea Polanco

“Suh your watermelon, your plantain, your pumpkin. What you going to do with your produce for today because they’re all in this dirty water out here.”

Ernesto Tzib, Vendor

“Well what we have to do we have to emm ker it back home because we can’t sell it. They only give us from six to ten o’clock right here and we have to move.”

Salvador Brisuela

Salvador Brisuela, Vendor

“There wasn’t much we could’ve done because imagine it rained all day and I am soaking wet right now. So all my things are on the ground and the people are not out buying today they left due to the heavy rains. So then what we can do, we need a place with a shed for cover in this weather.”

And at ten, the shut off time for business on Hicatee Street, vendors were packing up their produce to go home and no temporary solution materialized while we were there. Reporting for News Five, I am Andrea Polanco.

We’ll have the reaction from the City Council later in the newscast.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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6 Responses for “Wholesale vendors irate about poor and wet conditions”

  1. Bruce says:

    Common sense rain lands on the ground, a lot of rain floods do not leave your goods on the ground!!

  2. Charlie Price says:

    We have nincompoops running the city…..what do you expect???????

  3. do it right says:

    Seriously? You are selling people food that is on the ground and when it gets wet by the rain you will be upset with the GOB? Your fruits and Vegetables should not be on the ground in the first place. That is unsanitary despite whether the street floods or not. Is it that hard to put your produce on an elevated surface. Come on thats just ridiculous now.

  4. Rebel says:

    First point. The vendors are on Hicattee Street because the UDP Council do not want them on the canal side. When they were on the canal side, they had stalls. On Hicattee St the Council is not allowing them to use stalls. They can neither park their vehicles because it would take too much space! Second point. The vendors are not rich ppl. They are sons of the soil. For the Council and in particular the jackass Councillor Phillip Willoughby to treat them like floor mop is outrageous. The vendors are the poor of the poorest. They sell their produce to make a living, and the Council should be facilitating them. Third point. The Council spent over a million dollars on that market! Imagine! They promised a two storey building which was supposed to accomodate all vending. Where are such promises?? The market is one floor, and even that structure gets flooded. The problem is not the vendors…they have always been around trying to live….its the draatted UDP Council who is incompetent on delivering and big hustlers. Soon they will be gone.

  5. josh says:

    Rebel is right!! in any country facilities are provided for the people. Belize is a very big joke. iT IS A CRYING SHAME HOW THE PEOPLE OF THIS COUNTRY LIVE WITH WHAT THEY ARE GIVEN. Belizeans are reckless.I say shame on the people of Belize. Not so much the government cause we know that the stupid belize people elect stupid govenrment people. What the$%#$ do you expect?

  6. WTF says:

    Obviously no one gets it. so I will spell it out clearly for you. Belize City Council dosen’t give a Rats A$$ about small business, or if the public eats contaminated fruit that has been sitting in crap water all day. Willoughby is an idiot, and all City Council is interested in, is collecting $$ for trade licences and other fees which subsequently go into the pockets of those elected. Remember the underdeposting, the double dipping, Zenaida filling her Hummer with gas paid for by the taxpayers, and Mark Kings protests about all the corruption at City Hall. How the hell does the Mayor afford a multi-million dollar mansion when her husband is nothing more than a second rate DJ. Whats wrong with this picture!!!!! It’s all about $$$$$ folks, and if you don’t get it by now, good luck to you.

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