Maputo — Xipamanine market, the largest municipal market in Maputo city, closed its doors on Monday for a three day period of reorganisation and disinfection.
This is the first step in the gradual and temporary closure of the city’s 63 markets and five fairs, intended to make them safer for consumers and for stallholders in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Explaining the closure to reporters on Friday, the municipal councillor for health and social welfare, Alice de Abreu, said there have already been cases of Covid-19 detected in the city’s markets (although she did not say which ones).
Preventive measures against Covid-19 should be taken in all the markets. Abreu said a commission will be set up to monitor the implementation of the approved measures. These include the wearing of face masks, and obligatory social distancing between one stall and the next, and between the stallholders and their clients. The minimum distance required is 1.5 metres.
The reorganisation of Xipamanine will include separating the stalls, and placing distancing markers. Reflecting tape will be used to facilitate control and separation. With this spacing, it is impossible for all the current stallholders to be working in the market at the same time. Abreu said a system of rotation will be set up – one group would be allowed in the market for a 24 hour period, followed by another.
“This will guarantee social distancing, and it will reduce the number of vendors by 50 per cent”, said Abreu.
This might work for the formal sector – but many markets, including Xipamanine, also have a sprawling informal sector spilling onto the streets and pavement outside the formal market. Many of these vendors will be moved in a nearby space, which once belonged to the Urban Salubrity Directorate.
Taking the formal and informal sectors together, 11,000 people are said to work in the Xipamanine market – 5,000 in the formal market, and 6,000 in the informal market.
A further measure announced is the regular disinfection of the markets, including installation of equipment allowing people entering the market to disinfect their feet. Masks are obligatory both for stallholders and for their clients, and there is a ban on young children entering the market.
There was no resistance to Monday’s closure of the Xipamanine market. Next on the list for reorganisation is the Zimpeto wholesale market, on the outskirts of the city. The reorganisation of all the markets should be complete by 14 July.