By Kenneth Matimaire
Informal traders in the eastern border city of Mutare reportedly stampeded to get vaccinated following pronouncements by government that public markets will soon be open to holders of vaccination certificates only.
The pronouncements were made by deputy minister of Health and Child Care, Dr John Mangwiro, as part of strategies to intensify government’s vaccination exercises targeting prisons, border towns and public markets.
Dr Mangwiro said workers and operators of informal businesses will soon be required to produce vaccination certificates for them to operate.
Mutare Informal Traders Association (MITA) spokesperson, Brialliant Mpofu, said there had been renewed interest to get vaccinated within their constituency.
“As we speak there is a great number of informal traders under MITA who are interested to get vaccinated. Some have already been vaccinated,” said Mpofu.
He indicated that MITA has also been engaging its membership on numerous occasions over the benefits of vaccination.
“People didn’t understand the importance of getting vaccinated during the onset of the exercise. Many were reluctant since it is a voluntary exercise. But there has been renewed interest following capacity building workshops that we held with various organisations and institutions such as Mercy Corps and City of Mutare over the benefits of getting vaccinated.
“Right now, they (informal traders) are ready,” said Mpofu.
There are nearly 8,000 informal traders in Mutare operating designated sites at Dangamvura and Chikanga produce markets; Bako Flea Market, Green Market, Wholesale Market and TM Upper Market in Sakubva; Manica Post, ZB and TM markets in the city centre among others.
At the time of writing this story, second hand clothes trader at Bako Flea Market, Brian Hamadziripi, said it was difficult to get vaccinated as the queues were getting longer by the day.
“I have been trying to get vaccinated for some days but the queues are too long. It might not be an issue to those who are patient but most informal traders cannot afford to be away from their market stalls for too long. I think it’s better if they open more vaccination sites to cater for the rising demand (for jabs), said Hamadziripi.
Mpofu said they noted the concerns and were trying to engage relevant authorities to arrange for onsite vaccination at all designated markets in the city.
“We are engaging the Ministry of Health so that they set up vaccination centres right at our doorstep. I believe this will be very effective,” he said.
Mpofu indicated that similar arrangements have been done before where health officials established on site testing and vaccination several months ago.
Mutare is one of the areas that have been prioritised by government to receive adequate vaccination doses owing to its proximity to the Mozambican border.
The government says border areas have a higher risk of Covid-19 transmission owing to the incoming travelers, especially those making use of undesignated entry and exit points.