H-Metro yesterday conducted the second day of Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown survey in Harare’s suburbs and Chitungwiza where it was established that essential services were open as well as a few defiant bottles and vendors while movement in a number of high-density areas was prevalent.
The Harare City Council’s Corporate Communications Manager Michael Chideme spoke to H-Metro and highlighted that there was compliance from residents and businesses on the first and second day of the lockdown phase despite resistance from some informal traders.
“We are very much satisfied with the compliance from residents and businesses in Harare on the first day of the lockdown.
“Everything and everywhere was a complete lockdown expect for supermarkets, pharmacies and food outlets which are mandated to operate.
“We however experience a challenge with a small group of informal traders who tried to resist the directive but our municipal police managed to handle the situation very well.
“The City health facilities and institutions were open for the public and service was being offered as normal.
“Traders at Mupedzanhamo, Siyaso, Mbare Musika and Coca Cola and other smaller markets have complied with the lockdown.
“They have heeded calls to stay at home and we are happy for the cooperation from the traders,” said Chideme.
Several suburbs in Harare yesterday experienced acute water shortages despite assurances from the City of Harare that service delivery would be up scaled during the 21 day lockdown period.
Reports claimed that the whole of Highfields suburb had no water throughout the day.
Mavis Marko, a local resident who spoke to H-Metro said long winding queues were the order of the day as residents thronged the few water points in the suburb.
“We are very worried over this lockdown especially when there is not a single drop in our taps.
“Imagine we had not reserved any water in our homes because we were told that water would be available and the Councillor is nowhere to be seen.
“We now fear soldiers who might come to disperse us because we are already more than 100 queuing at the boreholes,” said Marko.
Chideme told H-Metro that the authority is aware of the water crisis situation experienced in Harare.
“Yes, we are very much alert and aware of the water challenges being experienced by our resident.
“We are working flat out to rectify the challenges and we know the residents need water the most during this course of the lockdown.
“Engineers are on the ground and there are other factors which are at hand but water is priority,” explained Chideme.
A number of gas traders have been violating the lockdown statutory instrument which states against sellers taking advantage of the national lockdown to profiteer as they are now demanding for USD$3 per Kilogram with most people managing to fill up just a Kilogram.
A resident who identified himself as Thomas in a long winding gas queue said the US$3 per kilogram demanded by gas traders is way out of the reach of many.
“We appeal to the authorities or police to act upon these dealers who are profiteering at such a difficult time like this.
“The sad part of it is that vanhu vekuziva but it is a bad time to profiteer.
“Everyone is in a crisis and we just have to be considerate because magetsi arikudhura.
“I’m forced to fill a kilogram nekuti handina mari yacho and with my family, the gas won’t last three days,” said Thomas.
There were no Kombis operating from several suburbs in Harare and Chitungwiza except for a few which were moving around without passengers.
A few touts where seen milling around parked kombis and some who spoke to H-Metro expressed worry over their predicament.
“Zvakafa akoma, right now hatina kana plan and we really do not know how we are going to pay rent.
“The situation is terrible for us because basa redu tinenge tisina plan b but health first,” said one.
Zupco buses were seen transporting commuters to and from work with a few passengers observing the social distancing rule.
The Zupco busses which normally boards 75 seated passengers and 25 standing had strict regulations as many ferried only 35 passengers while sanitisers were provided for before passengers get into the bus.
There was commotion in Sunningdale as shoppers scrambled for meali-meal at Choppies supermarket as social distancing rule was being disregarded.
Sunningdale Councillor Hammy Madzingira spoke to this publication and appealed to supermarkets owners for social responsibility during the lockdown period.
“The supermarket owners should have alerted the police before they started selling mealie meal to customers.
“This is a scarce commodity and people will definitely scramble for it and in this time of coronavirus, we need to be observing simple social distancing measures to curb the spread of the pandemic,” said Madzingira.
Shops were open for customers with a few which have resorted to opening for four hours per day.
Choppies supermarkets had a notice advising shoppers that it is opening from 10 am to 4pm during the course of the lockdown period.
Tuck Shops and vendors selling tomatoes and vegetables in high density areas have been hit the hardest but a few were operating despite the restrictions.
“Kuma ghetto kuno mashops haana dhiri sterek pane ma tuck shop anotengesa ma tomatoes.
“Some of us we just want a few daily stuff and we cannot afford to stock like other people do in low density suburbs.
“Every time we need to be rushing to a tuck-shop nearby because patawana mari totenga chinhu but now zvese zvafa.
A few bottle stores in Harare and Chitungwiza were open in disregard of the statutory instrument as few imbibers at corners were seen drinking some beers.
The pubs were selling through windows and half closed doors for their regular customers.
A few shabeens selling illicit beers and larger in high density suburbs have since sprouted up profiteering from the closure of pubs.
During the survey, the Central Business District was totally deserted ad many streets were empty and all businesses were closed.
A few Zupco buses were seen dropping off very few passenger and workers in essential services places.
In most high density suburbs, a number of children were seen playing games in the streets and people moving around with gas tanks.
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