Maputo — The wholesale market in the outer Maputo neighbourhood of Zimpeto is due to close on Thursday for between three and five days, in order to reorganise the stalls to make them safer for vendors and clients alike, in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the suspension of commercial activity at Zimpeto will depend on concluding the work on disinfecting the Xipamanine market, the largest market in the capital.
"If our technical staff and the medical team conclude their work in Xipamanine in three days (Monday to Wednesday), they will go on to Zimpeto on Thursday", said the director of markets and fairs in Maputo Municipal Council, Emidio Joao, cited in Wednesday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias".
Officials from the markets and fairs directorate visited Zimpeto on Tuesday to urge all stallholders to cooperate with the municipal authorities in the temporary closure of the market.
"The stallholders are aware of the importance of interrupting their activity for a period, so that they can go back to the market later, in adequate conditions to face Covid-19", said Joao. "So they can't order new products, because we need the space empty so that we can demarcate the stalls and place social distancing marks between the stallholders and their clients".
Xipamanine has been transformed, largely because the municipality has finally succeeded in moving thousands of informal vendors off the streets outside the formal section of the market. They have been promised covered space elsewhere.
The area has been cleaned and the pavements have been returned to pedestrians. For the time being, at any rate, the streets of Xipamanine are no longer full of hawkers selling all manner of wares, many of them of dubious or criminal origin.
A statement from the Municipal Council promises to reorganise all the markets, formal and informal, "with the goal of reducing to a minimum the spread of the pandemic in these places".
In all markets there must be room for a social distancing space of at least 1.5 metres between stalls, between clients and between stallholders and clients.
It is quite impossible to achieve this social distancing, if all the current stallholders are active at the same time. So, when necessary, says the Council, the number of stallholders working at any one time must be reduced, through schemes whereby, for example, half of them work one day and half the next.
Facilities for washing clients' and stallholders' hands must be available at all markets, and public toilets must be available and in working order.
The temperature of anyone entering a market must be taken, and the wearing of masks in markets is obligatory.