By Kenneth Matimaire
The City of Mutare said the popular Sakubva fruit and vegetable market in the eastern border town will only resume operations after meeting the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on Covid-19.
The central market was closed in April 2020 after Zimbabwe went into national lockdown to help it manage the Covid-19 pandemic.
Council went on decentralise wholesale points – at Chikanga Spar, Dangamvura Beit Hall playing grounds and Sacred Heart Primary School in Hobhouse high density township.
The local authority said the decision was meant to ensure and promote the one-metre social distancing protocol, which was not possible under the populated Sakubva market.
On one hand, there has been growing pressure from farmers, vendors and residents who used to frequent the market to reopen it.
council resists pressure
On the other, the local authority said it will not be rushed to reopen the market as it will have retrogressive effects towards government efforts to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are looking at that,” said Mutare Mayor, councillor Blessing Tandi when he addressed residents in his ward (14) in Chikanga township recently.
“What council will not do is to open the Sakubva fruit and vegetable market without meeting the WHO guidelines,” Tandi added.
The Sakubva Stadium car park, adjacent to Chimanimani Road, and open space between the blue shed and market produce at the bus terminus, would also not be opened to vending as they were not secured, he added.
“We will position the Sakubva fruit and vegetable market at the blue shed. We now then have to fence it so that it becomes secure. Operators will have to set up standard sheds which are a metre apart and ensure that there is hand sanitising at entry points,” said Tandi.
Though, he did not give a timeframe as to when this would materialise, Tandi indicated that the decentralised markets would remain functional even after the reopening of the popular Sakubva market.
The development comes at a time there are various challenges at the decentralised markets.
stadiums and farmers markets
There have been concerns raised over potential conflict that may arise between farmers and sports personnel since two of the sites are soccer fields.
Former Zanu PF legislator for Dangamvura-Chikanga constituency, Esau Mupfumi, ordered council to move the markets from sports facilities.
Moreover, the markets in Chikanga and Hobhouse have lost traction as farmers continue to shun the sites owing to the dire state of roads to and within the suburbs.
Farmers also bemoaned that they now fork out more to pay for transport costs to reach the disgnated sites.
“We are now paying more for transport. We used to hire transport to Sakubva, which was central but now we have to pay extra to reach Dangamvura, Chikanga or Hobhouse,” said Elliot Ndadzungira of Mutasa.
Ndadzungira said council should bring back the Sakubva market before they incur more costs.