Caroline Chiimba, Jeffrey Muvundusi and Bernard Chiketo
LOCAL authorities are pushing for the closure of informal markets to curb the spread of coronavirus which has claimed one from the three confirmed cases recorded so far in Zimbabwe.
This comes as the killer virus has ravaged the world, forcing governments to enforce lockdowns as a way to contain it’s spread.
The Harare City Council (HCC) has since approached the central government pressing for the closure of markets and home industries by tomorrow as the fight against Covid-19 intensifies globally.
In a statement, the city fathers said if the consultation with the government succeeds, traders in all markets and home industries must vacate them by end of day on March 27.
“These measures are being taken in light of the Covid-19 virus which is currently ravaging the whole world. Under normal circumstances, council would have done consultative meetings with members of the informal sector in line with our engagement model with all stakeholders,” HCC said.
This comes 48 hours after President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced that the informal sector will remain open amid the partial lockdown while health personnel, security and volunteer workers will be deployed in the markets to enhance screening services.
Meanwhile, all vendors trading at undesignated sites have been ordered to vacate immediately as part of efforts to minimise human contact in the fight against the coronavirus with municipal police being directed to move in to enforce the measures with the assistance of Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
Bulawayo acting mayor Mlandu Ncube yesterday said they sat as city fathers and came up with a resolution to make a quick intervention.
“We have resolved to clear all unlicensed vendors in the central business district as well as the busy market places.
“We are also going to create and remould those existing bays where vendors or informal traders will be operating one metre apart.
“We are closing down Khothama (second hand clothes market) with immediate effect,” Ncube told the Daily News yesterday.
He added: “We will also with immediate effect be reducing the number of people at funerals as well as cemeteries to 30. On top of that, we are banning people who hire busses for funeral purposes. We will also as council hire people who will be carrying out manual labour at graves. All these are resolved measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus in the city.”
Norton Town Council (NTC) has also roped in the ZRP to enforce a ban of public assemblage, vending and decongestion of public spaces as it seeks to avert the spread of coronavirus.
The most targeted place for the operation is the Katanga Shopping Centre and Speed. Katanga is one of the bustling business areas in Norton which might be a fertile ground for the spread of coronavirus.
Norton town secretary Kizito Muhomba confirmed the development, adding that they have since requested assistance from ZRP and operations will be in motion any time from now.
Mutare City Council mayor Blessing Tandi told the Daily News that the city is moving to clear the streets of all illegal vendors to decongest the streets and awaits the government’s position on how to handle congested legal markets.
“People have not been showing any vigilance with many going about their business as usual, hence the move to clear vendors and decongest the streets while pondering on how to deal with congested legal markets,” Tandi said.
Restriction of movement is proving to be a challenge in Zimbabwe due to the highly informalised nature of the economy.