Parika comes alive on Sundays

DPI, Guyana, Sunday, September 2, 2018

Attending churches, mosques and temples are customary practices of our Guyanese society on any given Sunday but that is certainly not the case at Parika, East Bank Essequibo. Parika is known for its markets and busy farmer’s stalls and any first-time visitor to the community on a Sunday will think it is chaos in town but for the regular visitors, it is very much the norm.

This little community, with just over 4,000 residents, is found at the mouth of the Essequibo River and is bordered by the Transport and Harbours Department of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure to the West where the popular Kanawan and Sabanto big boats operate and the Hydronie Market to the east.

The markets are managed by a Market Committee – a sub-committee of the RDC chaired by the Regional Vice Chairman, Sheik Ayube.  There are over 700 persons who own and operate stalls and shops within the two main markets, they pay a small rental of $400 to the Market Committee. There are others who may set up temporary stalls along the roadside to sell their products and produce.

The minibus drivers welcome Sundays. Ramlochan, a minibus operator had this to say, “Sunday in Parika is a fun day. Business is good on Sunday with all the various passengers going as far as Vreed-en-Hoop. I already made two trips to Vreed-en-Hoop and back and normally on regular days, the pace is much slower. We love Sundays.”

Vendors enjoy advertising their items on sale by calling out to customers in an effort to garner their attention while competing with fellow vendors. The loudest person in Parika is arguably the “Cane Juice Man” who can be heard from calling out the names of the various natural fruit juices he sells. Asked how he got the name “Cane Juice Man” he said, “I started off this trade selling only cane juice in a four-gallon bucket. I would normally walk the entire Parika selling and even though my business has grown over years I still want people to call me Cane Juice Man because that is what has gotten me to where I am today.”

Aunty Shirley Dharry travels all the way from Wakenaam to sell her produce. Even though the market is crowded on a Sunday with customers, she always comes from Friday and begins selling. “I have my own boat and we would come from Fridays and set up and sell. By Sunday midday all our stocks are finished and then we prepare to go back home.” Asked how is business going, she had this to say: “Anybody that complains about slow business on a Sunday is selfish. Business is always good on a Sunday.

Aunty Shirley is not the only person that travels a great distance to come to Parika, other vendors come from as far as Saxacalli in the Essequibo River and New Amsterdam in Berbice to sell their produce at the Parika Market. According to the New Amsterdam vendors, business is good at Parika and that’s why they come.

Michelle Biswah, a customer who is a regular shopper at Parika Market, said she enjoys Parika Market because the produce is fresh and are grown with little or no fertilizers. “I am an island girl and I know how we do things there that is why I prefer to come here and buy my vegetables and fruits. I know they are all natural and I can go home and know I will be eating healthy.”

Parika has been identified by the Regional Democratic Council of Essequibo Islands-West Demerara region to become a town. It is the gateway to Regions One, Two and Seven. The East Bank Essequibo village has seen considerable development and investment by the private sector, especially in the area of financial services.

Parika has more banks than anywhere else in the region. It is also a major hub for land and water transport. Parika has a functioning Police Station, Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) office, Post Office, Guyana Power and Light Incorporated (GPL) office, hotels and various fast food restaurants inclusive of Chinese restaurants.

All are encouraged to visit Parika on any Sunday and witness what really brings it alive. People from all walks of life enjoy this truly Guyanese style of shopping.

Story and Images: Ganesh Mahipaul.

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