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Vendors propose govt protection from service providers during lockdown

by Stephen Jakes
22 Apr 2020 at 09:17hrs | Views
Bulawayo vendors have proposed government protection from service providers during lockdown when they are not able to generate any income because their operations are a bit suppressed.

Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) said it has been talking to our members to find out what they think and what they feel, should the lockdown be extended.

"What we have gathered from them is that life will be very difficult since they live on hand to mouth and they have not been selling for the past 19 days which means they do not have any savings. It will be month-end soon and they will need to pay their rentals, hence they are saying it will be very difficult for the relationships between them and their landlords, relationships will be strained," said BVTA.

"They are proposing that the government should come up with measures that will ensure that they are protected. They are now buying food in townships and the prices are very exorbitant so it is very difficult to survive. Vendors are calling on government to ensure that people can buy food from the CBD."

The association said its members when they are buying mealie-meal in townships, there are different price regimes as in some shops it is sold in cash for 75 Bond whereas the government was saying mealie-meal can be bought either with cash, Ecocash or swipe.

"In this case people are being told that they cannot buy using Ecocash or swipe. They say the other worrying factor is that COVID-19 cases are increasing in Bulawayo, so if the government suspends the lock down and people start gathering again it would pose a serious threat to their lives because the virus would be spread all over as people would be doing as they please," BVTA said.

"BVTA members are calling on government that should the lock down be lifted, it should set up mechanisms which include setting up of testing facilities in shopping centres in the CBD, where people can be tested before getting into the shops. They pointed out that the government should try by all means to enforce the World Health Organisation's recommended social distancing and provide protective clothing for people selling in the markets e.g. the government of India gives vendors protective clothing and has been enforcing social distancing in the markets."

 The association said members are of the view that Zimbabwe was not in a lock down as people were gathering but was in a slowdown kind of strategy since people still queue in the shops, not observing the social distancing.

"In their view, the government must play a critical role in ensuring that the lockdown concept is fully implemented.  Those are some of the ideas coming from our members and we are hoping that the government will come up with safety nets but the problem now is that the government has been promising them for the past 19 days that it was going to make some cash transfers for them to be able to be cushioned and buy food as they have not been working," the association said.

"They have been waiting for the past two weeks and few days but nothing has materialised and they are calling on government to ensure that such schemes are expedited so that they are able to survive. BVTA members are saying should the lockdown be extended, government should ensure that it puts in place mechanisms that will ensure that they are taken care of so that they do not starve with their families since they are not working."

The association said some are saying they were not given enough time to prepare and buy enough commodities for them to be able to survive in the lockdown and they did not even plan for their businesses to come up with alternative ideas on how they could survive and they are saying government could have given them some time to prepare for the lockdown.

"We will continue encouraging our members to practise hygiene and maintain social distancing to minimise the spread of COVID19," the BVTA director Micheal Ndiweni said in an interview transcribed from Skyz Metro FM Radio.

Source - Byo24News