On Tuesday scores of vendors thronged various Covid-19 vaccination centres to take a jab after the government announced the roll out programme that is targeting to vaccinate 15 000 informal traders at marketplaces considered as hotspots.
According to the Sunday News, Dr Edwin Sibanda, the Bulawayo city health services director mentioned that 1200 vendors were jabbed on the first day of the vaccination programme for informal traders which is scheduled to run for the next 10 days.
In an interview with the Christian Voice, Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) director, Mr Michael Ndiweni said there was a massive turn up of traders especially on the second day and some of the people had to be turned away as the centre would have reached their target for the day.
“More people flocked in to get the jab on Wednesday and there was more chaos compared to the first day. People queued from morning till late afternoon to get vaccinated and we were told in some areas there were some people who were being turned away because the centre had reached the target number for the day.
There were also some people who were not traders who were trying their luck, there was some sort of misinformation about who is supposed to benefit from this vaccination drive,” he said.
On the first day, some of the vendors were sent back home as they did not have vending licenses to prove that they were indeed formal traders. However, this issue has been resolved as the traders association managed to engage the local authorities about the matter.
“There was a challenge with the traders particularly on Tuesday, but we raised that issue with the authorities and it was resolved that people can use their market registers for those that are renting privately owned markets or are workers for other people,” said Ndiweni.
On the eve of Tuesday, the cabinet announced stricter Covid-19 regulations following the upsurge of positive cases in the country. Citizens are now required to produce travelling documents from their employers for them to access the central business district (CBD).
“There is no mechanism that we have put in place in line with the post cabinet announcement on exemption letters, but we have written a statement demanding clarity so that it does not confuse traders even in terms of going for their vaccination and doing their business,” he said.
Mr Ndiweni said there was need for the government to be comprehensive when making such announcements as the current statement was not clear on how the informal traders continue with their work or even access the Covid-19 mobile clinics for their jab.
“We feel that the statement was a bit discriminatory because It spoke about employed people, what about those who are self-employed. I think the government, when they are giving their statements, should be comprehensive enough to address everyone who is either self-employed or employed by someone,” he said.
One of the vendors, Ruvarashe Tembo trading at Entumbane complex said vendors are very happy that they have been given the opportunity to vaccinate against Covid-19 but the challenge they were now facing was accessing exemption letters.
“This is very confusing now; we were still celebrating that the government has rolled out a programme that will see us vendors being vaccinated. Now how are we going to access those mobile clinics when we are self employed and getting these travelling documents is such a hustle,” said Mrs Ruvarashe Tembo, a vendor at Entumbane complex.
Ntombikayise Moyo said there was need to explain how the vendors will operate under these new restrictions.
“Since the government wants exemption letters then does it mean we will use our licenses to access our vending stalls or does this mean we are no longer allowed to operate. I hope that the government will rethink this because some of us rely on sales from the markets to put food on our tables for our families,” she said.