PDP in a release said it had remained silent on the Government’s closure of the Centenary Farmers’ Market (CFM) since the Government has announced that the move was to fight the COVID-19 spread in the crowded market place.
“We have been observing the closure of CFM and meeting the vendors, farmers and consumers to listen to their side of the story. Many of the vendors affected are women and their livelihoods have been affected. If the COVID is the reason for closing CFM, Multi-Level Car Parking (MLCP) is not the ideal place to substitute for it,” said the release.
It said that after the allocation of space to vendors in the MLCP where the ventilation is poor (WHO and health experts have recommended good ventilations to fight the virus) the party is compelled to issue a public stand that the closure of the CFM and its replacement in the MLCP do not serve to fight the pandemic spread.
It pointed out the abrupt closure has affected farmers, vendors and customers adversely and there is no proper alternate infrastructure for it.
The party publicly called upon the Government to reopen the CFM immediately with the following steps.
Spread out the customers in the CFM by increasing the trading days. PDP proposes that the market be open 7 days a week and even keep it open for night shopping.
As an interim measure to fight COVID, the occupancy of the CFM may be reduced to 50% or even one-third to help maintain the required social distance.
The CFM is the ideal place with its sheer size and open ventilations for social distancing. PDP suggested the Government to consult with the vendors, and discuss the Operation during the pandemic with MOH, BAFRA (MOAF) and CFM Management board. Based on the consultation, draw SOP.
Shopping by the public can be done based on the newly established zones on specific day and timing (Morning, afternoon and evening).
PDP said meanwhile the Government can build satellite vegetable markets in various other locations across the city. The infrastructure must be properly developed before allocating them to the vendors. Authorities must accelerate building satellite markets to ensure that our vendors, most of who are women, do not lose their livelihoods.
The party said even after the satellite vegetable markets are built and some of the vendors move there, CFM should not be closed. It should remain the primary vegetable market for the city.
“Centenary Farmers’ Market (CFM) is a landmark for Thimphu and an important part of our history – social, economic and cultural and the current structure was built to commemorate the 100 years of Monarchy in Bhutan,” said the party.
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