Vendors Group Welcomes Govt Ease On Informal Trade Restrictions

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

A BULAWAYO vendors group has welcomed a government move to lift the ban on their business operations but says it remains concerned about President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ambiguous statement on the issue of the sector’s compliance with World Health Organisations (WHO) protocols.

Mnangagwa on Monday extended Level Four Covid -19 lockdown by another two weeks.

The President said during the extended lockdown, the informal sector will be allowed to reopen subject to meeting WHO protocols.

“As Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA), we welcome the development as it places livelihoods at the centre of enforcement of Covid-19 measures on opening of markets upon satisfying Covid-19 World Health Organisation (WHO) protocols.

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

“We implore the government to clarify some semblance of ambiguity on the statement on compliance to WHO protocols to the formal sector to remove any doubt,” said Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) director, Michael Ndiweni.

The BVTA director said its members have been complying with WHO protocols when the lockdown was reintroduced in January this year.

“As BVTA, we had already handed over hundreds of sanitisers, a thousand masks, hand washing water dispensers.

“We also gave Bulawayo City Council a road line paint to mark trading bays to conform to physical distancing. We have also been running a series of Covid-19 awareness programmes on radio,” said Ndiweni.

He pledged to continue distributing more Covid-19 materials to the vendors.

“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. It was indeed long overdue to balance livelihoods and enforcement.

“We continue to call for a holistic approach in mitigating the spread of the virus. If we all put our hands on the deck, we will be able to contain its spread,” added Ndiweni.