Shop owners in Bindura are outraged with police officers who are continuously demanding what they term Covid-19 operating fee of US$5 from each business operator.
Small business owners operating in the central business district and high-density suburbs of Chipadze and Chiwaridzo, do not have the proper local council and tax licences for operating.
The shop owners are also being penalised for not having infrared thermometers, which cost about US$35. Under Covid-19 regulations, each business premise should have in place an infrared thermometer and sanitiser.
Taking advantage of the shortfalls, police are pouncing on them daily, demanding the so-called Covid-19 fees of US$5 per day from each operator.
The small business owners have been left with no choice but to pay or risk being arrested for operating without the requisite papers as well as not putting in place the necessary Covid-19 measures.
In an interview with NewZimbabwe.com, one shop operator, Saymore Mhere said efforts by the shop owners to appeal to senior police officers to intervene and stop their juniors from making the daily demands have not produced any results.
The shop owners have since resolved to stage a protest at the offices Mashonaland Central Minister Monica Mavhunga.
“Daily, the police officers come and collect US$5 per shop for us to operate because we do not have the infrared thermometers and necessary up-to-date operating licences,” Mhere, whose shop is in the CBD area, narrated to NewZimbabwe.com.
“As for bar owners, they pay using crates of variety of beers or US$40 per week. Now, had we bought the thermometers from the beginning; it will have saved us a lot but the issue was how to raise that amount at once.
“I approached senior officers at Bindura Central Police Station last week and they promised to investigate the matter but up to date, the bribery demands continue. However, Chief Superintendent Muzondiwa has given us time to explain our ordeal and has promised to look into it the matter. We hope there will be progress soon.”
A vendor at Progress shopping centre in Chiwaridzo, a low-income suburb in the town, said informal traders were operating on constant fear and raids from police officers.
“You are required to pay $30 per day for you to sell vegetables here. If you don’t have, they confiscate your goods,” she said.
Under Covid-19, vending has been outlawed.