Maintaining that the closure of the Centenary Farmers’ Market (CFM) and its replacement in the Multi-Level Car Parking (MLCP) do not serve to fight the Covid-19 pandemic spread, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has called upon the government to reopen the CFM immediately.
The party, in its press release issued on Thursday, has also recommended five ways to reopen the CFM immediately.
Firstly, the party recommended spreading out the customers in the CFM by increasing trading days. “We propose that the market be open 7 days a week and even keep it open for night shopping,” states the press release.
As an interim measure to fight COVID, the PDP suggested that 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 has also suggested the government to consult with the vendors, and discuss the operation during the pandemic with MOH, BAFRA (MOAF) and CFM Management board, and draw a SOP based on the consultation.
Thirdly, the party has recommended that shopping by the public can be done based on the newly established zones on specific day and timing (Morning, afternoon and evening).
And while the government can build satellite vegetable markets in various other locations across the city, the party maintained that 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,” states the press release.
Lastly, even after the satellite vegetable markets are built and some of the vendors move there, the party states that 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,” states the press release.
If the COVID is the reason for closing the CFM, according to the PDP, MLCP is not the ideal place to substitute for it.
“After the allocation of space to vendors in the MLCP where the ventilation is poor (WHO and health experts have recommended good ventilation to fight the virus) we are 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. The abrupt closure has affected farmers, vendors and customers adversely and there is no proper alternate infrastructure for it,” states the PDP’s press release. Further, PDP stated that many of the vendors affected are women and that their livelihoods have been affected.
Staff reporter from Thimphu