Market Queens at the Takoradi Market Circle in the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly (STMA) have welcomed the decision of the Assembly to introduce a shift system using coloured cards for traders as a means to stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Metropolis.
The market queens in the various markets were engaged by the Assembly, before arriving at the decision to introduce the shift system using coloured cards when the markets reopened.
Mr. Anthony K.K. Sam, Metropolitan Chief Executive of STMA, explained that the Sekondi-Takoradi Metro and the Effia-Kwesimintsim Municipal Assemblies held a joint Security Council meeting to review measures put in place to control the spread of COVID-19 in the Metropolitan area.
At the meeting, it was agreed that the Sekondi, Takoradi, Jubilee Park, Kojokrom and Effia Markets be close down to public from Thursday, May 28, to Wednesday, June 3, 2020.
He explained that while the markets remained closed, the various Assemblies would undertake fumigation and disinfection exercises.
The MCE noted that the recent increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the Metropolis was due to a decision taken to get all staff of the Assembly, front line workers, health institutions and security agencies to a compulsory test for the COVID-19.
He indicated that initially some market women agreed to go to the Jubilee Park but later disregarded the move and went back to the Market Circle to sell whereas some members at the fishing harbour flouted the protocols.
Mr Sam disclosed that his outfit was looking for more centers to be used for quarantine, more security personnel, funds to support front line workers with PPEs as well as educate people on the need to implement more robust plans to stem the spread of the pandemic in the Metropolis.
The meeting agreed that the Takoradi Market would run three shifts thus, red, yellow and green coloured cards would be used, while the Sekondi, Kojokrom and Effia Markets would run two shifts using red and yellow cards.
Madam Rose Nyameye, a Market Queen who spoke to the Ghana News Agency in an interview, hinted that traders were doing their best to observe the protocols, but that there were some recalcitrant ones who relegated the protocols to the background, hence the need to close down the markets.
"I believe when this is done, the traders will learn their lessons and comply with the directives when the market is reopened. Our numbers keep rising and the authorities need to do something about it," she opined.
Meanwhile, market women at the Effia Market in the Effia-Kwesimintim Municipal Assembly (EKMA) have pleaded with the city authorities to exempt them from the closure.
They have also pleaded with the city authorities to consider extending the closing date to enable them clear their stocks, which were already going bad.
A market woman, Madam Ayishetu Anas told the Ghana News Agency that the news about the closure came to them two days to the closure. It came as a surprise since they were doing their best to comply with the social distancing protocols.
Mr Philip Evans Nyarko, Assemblyman for the Effia Electoral Area, said Assembly Members were not consulted about the decision, but that it was necessary that the Effia Market was closed. If not all the people would troop there for trading and shopping when exempted, which may import COVID-19 cases into the Municipality.
He said the decision to close the markets was not an easy one to take, but looking at the fact that the Metropolis was becoming a hotspot for the pandemic, it was necessary for all strategies to be put in place to fight the menace.
He was of the view that the closure of the markets would inure to their good, as it would save lives and urged the market women to embrace it and refrain from the market during the period.
Mr. Nyarko noted that trading has not being banned and encouraged the traders to engage in neighbourhood trading, while observing the social distancing, wearing of nose mask, and the washing of hands especially after handling money to avoid possible infections.