THE number of exhibitors at this year's Zambia International Trade Fair (ZITF) has swelled to almost 800 as the annual showpiece opens its gates to the public today.
This year's fair being held under the theme 'Creating Synergies Beyond Borders', has attracted 123 foreign international exhibitors and 675 local ones.
Foreign exhibitors are from Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Africa, India, China, United Arab Emirates and other countries.
ZITF chairperson Phesto Musonda said in an interview yesterday that all logistics were in place.
Mr Musonda said ZITF had created more than 102,000 jobs during preparation and fair days.
A check by the Times yesterday showed that many stands were not ready although contractors were seen working on them in readiness for the public today.
James Mwenya, a contractor engaged to work on the MTN Zambia stand, said most exhibitors were late in preparing their stands.
Mr Mwenya said in the past, preparations started three weeks before as opposed to the one week given to some contractors this year.
" ZITF management should enforce a consensus rule to ensure that all the companies start preparations at the same time so as to promote efficiency.
"Lack of enforcement of rules lead to stands not being ready a day before the fair is scheduled to start," he said.
Another contractor at the Central Statistical Office stand, Wesley Siame, however, said the reason Government funded organisations delayed in preparing stands was because they were funded late.
"We have been given an ultimatum to complete all preparations by tomorrow, which means we are working long hours today," he said.
However, the Bank of Zambia, Zanaco, Zamtel, PACRA, Gourock Group of Companies, National AIDS Council and Pharmaceutical Regulatory Authority were among companies that had their stands ready by Monday.
ZITF general manager Jonathan Simwawa said exhibitors decided when to engage contractors.
Mr Simwawa said most exhibitors were panicking because they had a deadline to complete the stands by yesterday.
He urged exhibitors to comply with the rules as they were always told when to complete their stands.