Vendors welcome latest Covid-19 lockdown regulations

Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) has welcomed the latest lockdown regulations announced on Monday, noting that the extension of business operating hours and the opening up of other sectors will allow informal traders to resume their operations. 

BVTA director Micheal Ndiweni said their organisation, prior to the start of the current lockdown, had provided hand sanitisers and thermometers to the city council, as well as paint to demarcate bays at market places in order to ensure social distancing. 

Informal traders were forced out of business at the beginning of the year after the Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care enforced strict lockdown measures which left only essential services providers operational. 

Ndiweni highlighted that the latest announcement falls within placing livelihoods at the center of enforcement of COVID-19 measures which enforce opening of markets upon satisfactory COVID-19 World Health Organisation (WHO) protocols.

“Our understanding of satisfying WHO protocols is the screening at market entrances using a thermometer, washing of hands at the entrances, masking up and observing physical distancing between trading bays owners and queuing customers,” Ndiweni said. 

“We implore the government to clarify the statement on compliance to WHO protocols to the informal sector, to remove any doubt.”

He explained that BVTA, has also recruited and deployed market bailiffs to monitor and raise awareness on ways to reduce the spread of the virus. 

“We have also run a series of radio programs at SkyzMetro FM, where informal traders shared strategies they are employing to fight the spread of the virus. We are going to urgently distribute more materials to support informal traders and address the Cost of Compliance in the interim, as well as aid them to comply with COVID-19 protocols. These will include thermometers for use in enclosed markets,” he said. 

“It was indeed long overdue to balance livelihoods and enforcement. We continue to call for a holistic approach in mitigating the spread of virus. If we all put our hands on the deck we will be able to contain its spread.”

Ndiweni said BVTA is confident that a holistic approach makes everyone responsible to play their part and prospects of defying the lockdown will be reduced. 

“We still insist on a cushioning package to bridge the impact and shocks of the lockdown on vendors and informal traders,” Ndiweni said. 

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