Vendors adapt to business amidst squalor at La Penitence Market

The dilapidated exterior of the La Penitence Market is an immediate indication of its need for rehabilitation. (Photo by Terrence Thompson)

For the vendors selling at the La Penitence Market in Georgetown, floodwater, leaks and the presence of animals have all become a way of life from which they are hoping they will one day be delivered.

In a letter published in the June 30th, 2018 edition of Stabroek News, writer Anu Bihari described the market as the “is the grimiest, darkest and most dank bazaar in this hemisphere” and urged that it be torn down and rebuilt.

“No attempt should be made to repair or rehabilitate that market, it should instead be torn down and a completely new facility built in its place. No sane, sensible or decent person would want to venture into that market to say they are shopping,” Bihari added.

This newspaper recently visited the market after a few hours of rain and vendors on the outskirts were observed conducting their trade in water up to their ankles. While some were clad in long boots, others wore slippers and were seemingly unfazed by the floodwater around them. 

Water could also be seen ankle high at each entrance of the market.

One vendor was observed with a broom vainly sweeping water from around his stall. A nearby vendor said that due to him and others being on the outskirts of the facility, they continually suffer due to flooding. He quickly went on to say that the flooding is because of the poor drainage system, which has been clogged by thick vegetation.

Vendors within the market also complained about the roof, which they said leaks from several places, which results in some areas becoming soaked whenever there is a heavy downpour.

One vendor pointed out a portion of the market’s roof with new zinc sheet, while noting that it accounted for less than 10% of the entire roof.

Bihari’s letter also highlighted the presence of pests in the market. “Certainly, the largest, most valiant, and audacious rodents and other pests in Guyana call the La Penitence Market home,” the letter stated.

This newspaper also observed several cats inside the market, especially around the butchers. Cats of all shapes and sizes were seen comfortably laying around the meat stalls, unbothered by the movement around, while the meat vendors were seemingly unbothered by their presence as  the meat was hung without care.

One vendor said that on several occasions she has had to chase cats from her stall, but it appears as though they are surviving on the meat fed to them by the meat vendors, resulting in them being an apparent permanent feature at the market.

A seamstress in the area noted that in addition to the cats, there are also rats and she noted that on several occasions she has had to remove dead rats from above the space where she plies her trade.

Thick cobwebs could also be observed over food stalls and throughout the halls of the building, making it evident that cleaning has not been done for some time.

One vendor told this newspaper that when it comes to cleaning the area, the City Council has been doing a poor job as a majority of the time those tasked with the duty are often slacking off.


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