Council suspends open air flea markets

The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has announced new regulations that restrict large gatherings as the local authority scales up its efforts to prevent the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19) in the city.

The local authority convened a special council meeting on Wednesday to strategise on preventative measures to combat the pandemic that has caused havoc all over the world.

The city is yet to record a Coronavirus case.

Addressing a press conference, Thursday, the Mayor Councillor Solomon Mguni said the council has suspended with immediate weekend flea markets.

The Mayor said while the local authority is aware that the weekend flea market popularly known as Khothama, is a source of revenue for the city’s informal traders, there are fears it could expose residents to the pandemic.

“The City of Bulawayo has come up with preventive measures after its special council meeting yesterday (Wednesday) to try and mitigate the effects of the pandemic. Suspension of weekend flea markets with immediate effect, the City recognises that while the weekend flea market provides a source of revenue for the City’s informal traders, they also congregate large numbers of people increasing the vulnerability of residents spreading coronavirus to Bulawayo,” the Mayor said.

“At the present moment the City of Bulawayo may not have a case but prevention is always better than cure, so we have decided to take this painful step to suspend all weekend flea markets in the City.”

He added that the local authority has also limited the number of mourners at the city`s cemeteries to 30 while the filling up of graves will now be done by the municipal staff.

“With regards to our cemeteries, the City has made a decision to limit the number of mourners at a cemetery to a minimum number of 30 people per family, the back filling of graves will now be done by the municipal staff and not by members of the public,” he said.

“As per the Government of Zimbabwe proclamation, the City reiterates that there be limitations of attendees at gatherings such as churches, funerals, weddings and meetings to less than 50 people. We discourage gathering and appeal to residents to minimise congregating.”

The Mayor said the local authority was engaging the public transport sector to reduce the number of passengers.

“The City of Bulawayo is further engaging the transport industry to reduce their fleet, number of passengers per given time and also to provide sanitation equipment in all their vehicles and offices and display prevention measures,” he said.

The Mayor also said the council will be scaling up its Health and Hygiene education programmes

to all stakeholders which include informal traders, travellers, shop operators and transporters.

“A hailer will go around sharing Health messages for the public so as to empower the community of Bulawayo with information necessary for the protection against the global pandemic,” he said.

Mayor Mguni added that residents can utilise online platforms to pay for their rates.

“To protect and prevent possible infections, we are encouraging members of the public to use alternative means of communication to access municipal services, for example, use of emails, phone calls and online payment platforms to contact municipal staff,” he said.

Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology (CITE)

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