Market Bailiffs have noted that toilets pose a health hazard for vendors and informal traders in market places.
Sharon Sitsha, one of the Market Bailiffs told Vendors Voice that vendors go to nearby houses to ask for the use of toilets but the challenge is the unavailability of running water. This exposes vendors and informal traders to the potential of an outbreak of diseases such as dysentery and cholera in market places.
“In North End shops, I learnt that toilet keys are not accessible to everyone due to different reasons, one person keeps the keys making it difficult for other vendors to ask for the toilet keys,” said Thabani Gumede, another Market Bailiff.
Bulawayo City Council (BCC) had promised to allocate vending bays and decentralise markets to suburbs as a way of decongesting the CBD and curbing the spread of COVID-19, however only a few markets have been opened in suburbs like Pumula and Magwegwe (Konron). Last month BCC stated that the process of reallocation of vending bays is slow due to lack of resources.
In the available markets, only vendors with licenses are allowed to operate. “Vendors with licenses are given spaces in markets, most vendors do not have licenses because the process of obtaining a vending license is cumbersome,” said Aleck Ndlovu, BVTA President and Market Bailiff. Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) members who do not have licenses and who own Small and Medium Enterprises have been trained under the Market Aggregation COVID-19 Vendors Response – Market Access Project (CVR – MAP) funded by Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF) in the Sizimele Consortium, on the importance of having vending licenses and adherence to authority regulations.
The sites where vendors sell at do not have toilets and running water. The absence of water exposes them to contracting COVID-19 because as frontline service providers, they have to wash their hands regularly especially after handling money and they also have to provide water for customers to wash hands with soap as they cannot afford sanitisers. Through the Market Aggregation CVR – MAP, BVTA has managed to donate sanitisers to vendors and informal traders in operating markets to sanitise their hands frequently even if there is no water.