KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, April 8, IWN – The two butchers still selling meat at the temporary market on the Reclamation Site say business has declined significantly over the last seven years because of the unsafe and unsanitary conditions there.
“The drains are filthy. … They are using outside at the back there as a washroom. If you go around there, you can’t stand the scent,” Rodney Gibson told I-Witness News on Friday.
His comments came one month after Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar, in response to a question from Opposition parliamentarian, Daniel Cummings, admitted to Parliament that there are “sanitary issues” where the butchers ply their trade, even as some improvement were made the to facility.
The butchers were moved to the temporary market because of a fire at the Meat Market.
“Seven years now! And it hurts my heart to know that Canada gave us that and the abattoir,” Gibson further said.
The butchers on Friday gave I-Witness News a tour of the facility. A garbage littered drain, which is covered with a grill, runs through a section of the area where meat is sold, the bathroom is untidy, and the area reeks of urine.
Gibson said the other eight butchers who operated from the temporary facility have stopped selling there.
More shops can be opened in the building, generating money for the Government, Gibson further said.
“But they (the public) are afraid because a set of cocaine smokers and weed smokers right there and they are threatening to rob people and all sort of things,” he said of the alleyway to the market.
Persons wanting to access the meat market via the Solidarity Inc. Car Park, have just ten minutes to buy their meat, before they are charged for parking.
Gibson told I-Witness News that he is selling about a quarter of the meat that he sold before the relocation.
“I used to sell two cattle’s — sometimes two and a half. [Now,] sometimes I sell half a cattle a day. … The customers don’t want to come down here to buy,” he said.
Meanwhile, Terry Cibson, Rodney’s nephew and former employer, told I-Witness News that the temporary relocation should not have lasted so long.
He also complained about the unsanitary condition and the sale of drugs in the area.
“… there are people all there selling marijuana. They are coming right there and urinate and all that. Sometimes, you come here on mornings, you have to be washing away filth and all that,” Terry said.
“We should have done move out of here years [ago]. They tell we they [were] bringing us here temporarily; but this is past temporary, we are here about seven years…
“We have gone from selling six, seven cattle to can’t sell one,” he said.
Terry said that when he operated from the original location, business was so good that he often had to eat his breakfast and lunch together between 2 and 3 p.m.
“Man ah drop sleep over here,” he said of the current location.
Terry says he has to reduce his fulltime staff at the meat market to two — down from six, and now has two butchers at his slaughterhouse. There was originally six.
He spoke of the national slaughtering facility that is to be built as part of the Banana Accompanying Measures but said he wants the Government to fix the original meat market until such time.
Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar, told Parliament on March 11 that work was carried out on the temporary meat market in December 2012.
The works comprised painting of the customer service area, replacing of grill on the floor, the cleaning and repairing of hangers for meat, repairing of pipes and other fittings, repairs of pipes for the washroom facilities, and cleaning of the refrigeration facility and of the general surrounding areas of the market.
“There are several sanitary issues at the current location which … have arisen primarily because of activities of persons who illegally dump garbage on the premises of the meat market. And the area is also being … used for less than desirable purposes,” Caesar further told Parliament.
He said the ministries of Health and Agriculture will continue to partner “to ensure that the requisite health protocols are followed”.
He further said that he had received the plans for the construction of a new meat market.
“But I also want to note that this discussion must take place within the broader discussion of the plans and possibilities for a national slaughtering facility which will be financed by the Banana Accompanying Measures. And the sum of 1.5 million euros … have already been allocated to deal with this issue,” he said.