Informal traders are feeling the pinch of the cost of complying with COVID-19 protocols in market places including the Informal Cross Border Traders (ICBTs) who have been struggling to pay for the PCR COVID-19 certificates.
ICBTs are struggling to make ends meet since borders were shut down in trying to curb the spread of the pandemic.
Due to the high cost of compliance, allegations of people corruptly acquiring fake PCR certificates have been on the rise. The mandatory COVID-19 certificates is valid for 72 hours at a cost of between USD50 – USD60 which is beyond the reach of many traders.
“Imagine having to go to South Africa three times a month, it means I have to acquire the certificate three times for $50 USD as it is only valid for 72 hours”, said a vendor who declined to be named.
ICBTs are currently struggling to access finance to restock or even expand their businesses. The stringent measures demanded by banks and the shortage of foreign currency experienced in the country compounds the situation for this partially developed sector. Informal traders in market places are also reeling in the same predicament where they need to contribute an average of USD10 per month towards sanitisers, in line with Ministry of Health and Child Care and World Health Organisation protocols, in order to curb the spread of the pandemic. This figure comes from their little sales, as business has also shrunk due to the impact of COVID-19 to many potential customers.
Due to these challenges, some ICBTs particularly women have been resorting to using undesignated exit and entry points to avoid the cost of crossing borders in light of the exorbitant PCR COVID-19 certificate, these expose women to potential sexual harassment at the entry points, muggings, getting arrested by law enforcement agents, impounding and loss of goods.
Before lockdown, ICBTs contributed 40% GDP to the economy of Zimbabwe (Business Live, 2020). This means the demise of the sector may have an impact on the economic growth of the country.