RESIDENTS in Mutare have requested their local authority to extend the trading hours of the fresh produce market from 6 am to 11 am to avert the spread of Covid-19 as local transmission cases continue to rise daily.
Currently, the market is open from 6 am to 8 am and this has led to residents flooding the market around 7 am to try and beat the shutdown at 8 am.
A survey by NewZimbabwe.com indicated that the fresh farm produce market is crowded especially around 7 am with measures such as social distancing and good hygiene being flouted as residents stampede at the market.
Residents and farmers interviewed said there was need for the local authority to extend trading hours to ensure the place is not crowded between 6 am and 8 am.
"There is need to extend trading hours because we feel the current scenario is contributing to the spread of Covid-19. As you can see people are stampeding to buy because the time is limited," said Maxwell Mapuya of Chikanga 2.
Small-scale farmers said the time allocated was not enough considering there was a curfew between 6 pm and 6 am.
"Why are they limiting time? We should trade up to 11 am at least. These are perishables and we need to push volumes so that we reap maximum profits. We are incurring losses because we pay trading fee and our selling time is limited, so our produce is rotting," said Reuben Mwandiopera from Honde Valley in Mutasa district.
The United Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Trust (UMRRT) has since requested the city fathers to consider extending trading hours.
In a letter addressed to the mayor Blessing Tandi, UMRRT director Bishop Sebastian Bakare expressed concern regarding the acute increase in Covid-19 positive cases in Chikanga and Mutare in general.
"UMMRT notes that residents in high density suburbs are at risk of facing the rage of Covid-19 as council mandated the fresh produce market to run from 6am to 8am.
"The persisting status quo is necessitating the rise of Covid-19 cases as residents and buyers flood the market around 7 am as they try to meet the targets before 8 am, flouting the measures of social distancing and good hygiene," said Bakare.