Informal traders operating in lawfully designated markets in Bulawayo have been commended for observing Covid–19 regulations as part of the efforts to curb the spread of the pandemic.
This was observed during an informal trader’s market tour at Highlander’s market, Shasha market at Erenkini Long Distance Bus Terminus and Sekusile market in Nkulumane conducted by Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) and Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET).
The tour was also attended by Bulawayo Deputy Mayor, Councilor Mlandu Ncube.
Speaking during the briefing before the market tour at Tower Block, Thursday, VISET Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Edward Kapodogo said the aim of the market tour was to assess whether the informal traders are following the Covid-19 guidelines.
“When Covid-19 started the media was focusing on the formal economy factors but VISET and BVTA focused on the informal sector. We tried to look for funds and donate masks, sanitisers and dispensers for the markets,” said Kapodogo.
“We were also making awareness about Covid-19 for informal traders to understand that it is important to self-regulate in the market because when Covid-19 started there was a demolition of markets across the country but it was a strategy to try to curb Covid-19, so, we are also trying to ensure that the relationship with the local authority is strengthened.”
He said there is a need to run away from the cat and mouse relationship between informal traders and the local authorities.
“If there are issues, we need to sit down like what we are doing at the moment. So, this tour which we are doing, we also want to check if there are challenges, opportunities and future plans which we need to take into consideration because a relationship involves two people, the duty bearers and the rights holders,” he said.
Speaking after the market tour in Sekusile, Nkulumane ward 22 councillor Rodney Jele said people operating in the informal sector should work together in efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19.
“I am actually happy that people are still observing social distancing, sanitization but we still continue encouraging people to continue doing that so that we at least reduce the spread of the pandemic,” he said.
“My wish is that in each and every community at least we have such structures and such unity amongst vendors. What Council did in partnership with BVTA is to mark these areas, but the structures are individually put by the beneficiaries of the bays,” he said.
Meanwhile, BVTA President, Aleck Ndlovu, however, said there is a need for continuous capacitation of the site committees so that they do a lot of awareness-raising because there are some people who are still not wearing masks properly.
“Generally, you find that the masks are there but they are just hanging below the chins, this is an area of concern. In terms of sanitation, the standards have improved, there is cleanliness, littering is not as much as what it was before,” said Ndlovu.
Bulawayo Deputy Mayor Mlandu Ncube said the local authority is working on coming up with structures that will make people feel free to go to those markets.
“If the structure becomes modern and smart, the maintenance becomes expensive, the price of a product becomes expensive and poor people become scared to come to the market,” said Councilor Ncube.