TRADERS at Matebeto market in Thorn Park area in Lusaka yesterday bitterly complained of inconveniences when Silwizya ward PF councillor Canisious Ndelosha led health inspectors to indefinitely close the market.
The move to close the market that is popularly known for traditional meals prepared in the restaurants it houses is meant to forestall the spread of cholera.
Health inspectors, according to market chairman Brian Simumba, recommended that the egalitarian market be indefinitely closed to pave way for its cleaning by traders.
Several traders were found cleaning the market, inside and outside.
“He (Ndelosha) came with health officials around 12:30 hours and we were told that the market has to be closed until it’s clean. So, we asked them to say ‘where do we start from cleaning’ and they told us we should work on our drainage, starting from the inside of the market and everyone has cooperated – they are now closing their shops and we are commencing works,” Simumba, who was found cleaning, said in an interview.
“The complaint from the people that are trading here is that we should have been told earlier so that we shouldn’t prepare food. Meals will go to waste and had we been told earlier, we wouldn’t have opened today – we would have just been cleaning. Re-opening of the market will depend on how we clean and listen to the person that will come and inspect.”
He, however, noted that closing the market was not the ideal solution.
“My reaction is who am I to deny the fact…It’s government and if they tell you to close, you close and do what they want. [But] the closure of the market is not the best way out because our livelihoods depend on what we deal in here. But we have been told that some shops here are not clean; my shop can be clean but if some other shops are a bit clean, they will probably close the whole market. We have 32 operational shops here and I have been operating here for the past 19 years,” said Simumba.
And a gathering of traders, mostly women, complained that the move by the civic leader was impulsive.
“Our life is entirely supported by us selling nshima at this market; we satisfy all our needs and responsibilities through this business. So, for them to just come and close the market without prior notification is being so inconsiderate! Why didn’t they inform us yesterday (on Friday) that we’ll be coming to close this market on Saturday?” one woman was heard resentfully complaining.
Several other traders underscored the same complaints.
As the cleaning of the market progressed, police officers were on site to watch over.
By press time, most restaurants had been closed.