We applaud and appreciate the government’s initiative of prioritising vendors and informal traders as frontline service providers, through the COVID-19 vaccination program that started on 6 July, 2021.
We however noted a number of challenges at the vaccination centres. On day one, informal traders who were not in possession of valid licenses or letters were being turned away, but we are grateful that this issue was resolved by authorities through public notices calling for use of registers for market places.
A number of informal traders who spoke to us complained about queuing for longer hours from morning till almost closure of businesses, yet they are supposed to be running their businesses in racing with the reduced hours of trade.
We also observed that after queuing for hours, some informal traders ended up not maintaining social distancing, many might get infected with the virus, if the vaccination process continues to move at a snail pace in some vaccination centres.
We also noted that some citizens have little or no knowledge at all on this particular vaccination program, some were told that it is for informal traders after queuing from morning, only to be turned away at the gate.
We were also made of aware of claims that some centres have a number of informal traders that they attend to per day, which is said to be 40, and we were informed that informal traders were turned away and told that the limit for the day has been reached.
We plead with the authorities to allow informal traders who are members of Informal Economy Associations to vaccinate using their membership cards as most of them are under the council licensing waiting list, following their public call in year 2020.
As an Association and as part of our efforts to complement government’s efforts in this vaccination program, tomorrow we shall begin to deploy our Market Bailiffs who are going to support their peer informal traders in maintaining order in the vaccination centres. They will be using hailers to get their peer informal traders to maintain social distancing.
We strongly urge our fellow informal traders to protect themselves and their families through maintaining social distancing in vaccination centres, wearing masks properly and sanitizing their hands during the vaccination program.
Source: Bulawayo Vendors Trust and Traders Association