In an interview Matabeleland South provincial deputy director in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Mr Richmond Ncube, also confirmed that an assessment done in supermarkets around the province has shown that there was a decline in the availability of basic commodities. He said as a mitigatory measure some supermarkets were now limiting the number of items per customer.
Retail shops in Matabeleland South Province are now limiting the quantities being purchased per customer due to declining supplies of basic commodities under the prevailing lockdown.
“We conducted an assessment in our retail shops, which showed that there’s non-availability of basic commodities. Some supermarkets don’t have some basic commodities as I speak such as sugar or milk or they have limited supply,” said Mr Ncube.
“This is mainly because after the lockdown was announced some people rushed to buy groceries in large quantities to stock in their homes. “As a result, some supermarkets are now limiting the number of items being bought by each customer in order to preserve the supplies. The danger we foresee is that shops might run out of some consumables leaving consumers stranded.”
Mr Ncube noted that deliveries were limited because of the prevailing constraints emanating from lockdown initiatives in the country and abroad aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
“Production has been affected as firms have to operate with limited staff in order to observe the rule of social distancing in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19,” he said.
Mr Ncube also said they were continuously engaging millers to ensure that people have access to mealie-meal. He said they had engaged millers to stagger and space out distribution points of mealie-meal in order to cover all districts including rural areas. Mr Ncube, however, said millers and retail shops were facing challenges in transporting mealie meal due to shortages of diesel.
He said they will continue to engage millers to ensure undisrupted supply of mealie-meal. Retail shops in the province have adopted measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. For instance, pharmacies are now advising people to make their purchases online in order to limit movement and congestion.
“Retailers have adopted measures put in place to curb the spread of Coronavirus. They are limiting the number of people in their shops at a time and they are sanitising people as they go in. Pharmacies have also urged customers to do their purchases online and some have started making use of this service.
“However, the challenge is experienced when there is mealie-meal as supermarkets only control the number of people inside their premises but when outside the people will be congested in long winding queues. We have urged businesses to enforce social distancing even outside their shops,” he said.
Mr Ncube said the province’s economy was going to be greatly affected by the lockdown. He said some of the economic activities anchored on tourism and cross border services were at the moment negatively affected as the borders were closed. Mr Ncube said while some of retailers in parts of the province got some of their supplies from neighbouring countries, the closure of borders has crippled their operations.
“As a province we were also supplementing our mealie-meal through purchasing from neighbouring countries, which has been affected by the lockdown. There is little or no movement of goods from one point to the other,” he said.
A manager at a supermarket in Gwanda who preferred anonymity said they were no longer allowing customers to buy goods in cartons in order to preserve stock and ensure that they served as many clients as possible. The official said they were not sure when they would get more supplies but products were dwindling.
Source – Bulawayo24 News
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