Zvikomborero Parafini, H-Metro Reporter
The City of Harare is moving to open Mupedzanhamo Market as vendors have taken over the open spaces surrounding the main flea market pending the completion of renovations.
Mupedzanhamo was closed at the inception of the lockdown and during the lockdown, the City of Harare began renovations there, in what the city authority deemed to be re-organisation of the informal sector for an orderly post Covid-19 strategy.
While the lockdown is still in place and is now on level three, the Mupedzanhamo market hasn’t been re-opened yet, and this has prompted the traders to take their traders to the streets.
Speaking to H-Metro, City of Harare spokesperson Michael Chideme said they expect to reopen the flea market this week.
“We are working very hard at Mupedzanhamo and we are expecting to re-open this week, there were a lot of things that needed to be put in place to ensure that going forward, our traders will be trading safely in place that they won’t be at risk of contracting Covid-19,” he said.
He added that currently the Copa Cabana market is now open.
“The Copa Cabana Flea market is now open for business, it was renovated and developed by a private player, but council is working as the watchdog to ensure that there is compliance to all the Covid-19 regulations, like the sanitisers, masks and social distancing,” he added.
Vendors have taken over the streets selling second hand clothes, which are mostly sold in the Mupedzanhamo market.
These traders risk contracting the deadly Covid-19 virus trying to earn a living as the area during its peak hours will be heavily congested with everyone trying to make a sale.
Consumers on the other hand are at risk of getting the disease trying to get goods in Mbare where they are generally priced lower than in the CBD or in their residential areas.
A trader who spoke on anonymity said they are back on the streets because the council hasn’t kept their word to renovate the market on time so they have taken to the streets as they have to earn a living for themselves and their families.
“The president gave informal traders to get back to work but council since April when they started their renovations, they still haven’t opened the flea market, our lives depend on this so we have no choice but to sell our wares on the streets, we will just protect ourselves by wearing masks,” she said
Many present at Mbare Musika had masks, makeshift or otherwise, even though some were taking them off when communicating with their customers, or when they were now feeling uncomfortable from putting on the mask the whole day at the market.
Even the fabric traders whose makeshift structures were destroyed and were promised by council that they would be moved to another marketplace in Mbare, Shawasha, are also back on the streets as work is still underway at their destination market and they currently don’t have anywhere to trade from.