By NQOBANI NDLOVU
INFORMAL traders associations yesterday called on the Health ministry to prioritise its members during the on-going COVID-19 vaccination exercise.
Government has said that vendors would not be allowed to conduct business at public trading places unless they had been vaccinated.
Public trading places such as Mbare and eRenkini bus terminus in Harare and Bulawayo, respectively, are seen as COVID-19 hotspots.
Renkini in Makokoba suburb, Bulawayo, has been classified as a COVID-19 hotspot.
“With the continued rise in COVID-19 cases, we want full co-operation from everyone. We will also move into marketplaces like Mbare in Harare and eRenkini in Bulawayo. No vaccination, no table. Protect your customers by getting vaccinated,” Chiwenga was quoted saying last week after receiving COVID-19 testing equipment and traditional Chinese medicines valued at US$1,4 million from a Zimbabwean-based Chinese company, Satewave Technologies.
Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association director Michael Ndiweni said: “Informal traders must be treated like frontline workers because they are providing an essential service. We know people consume goods that they buy from the traders. There is no question about that, so clearly, government must give them a priority.
“There is no question that informal traders are also frontline workers. For us, that is the only logical way to go. We have also been encouraging our members to get vaccinated, although we have realised the challenge of the centralised system of vaccination. We call upon the government to ensure that vaccines are accessible to the marginalised communities, to the townships. They must increase vaccination centres in townships.”
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In Bulawayo, long queues are being witnessed at designated COVID-19 vaccination centres as the demand increases following an increase in infections, as well as fatalities.
A report from the Health and Child Care ministry shows that 28 people died while 1 331 new cases were recorded on Wednesday, sending panic among the general citizenry, most of whom have been hesitant to take the COVID-19 jabs.Follow Nqobani on Twitter @NqobaniNdlovu