Traditional markets not ready for reopening

SGGP
Vice Chairwoman of Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee Phan Thi Thang, in a recent meeting, asked departments, Thu Duc City, and districts to quickly reorganize local supply points of goods with an appropriate method, resume operations of points of sale of food and essential foods at traditional markets. The decision of the leaders of the People's Committee of HCMC is right, but in reality, reopening traditional markets is not an easy task.
Traditional markets not ready for reopening ảnh 1 Fresh food sold at Nga Ba Bau Market in Hoc Mon District. (Photo: SGGP)
Sellers have not been interested yet

On August 10, it was recorded that there were nine stalls at Hanh Thong Tay Market in Go Vap District, mainly fresh products, vegetables, and fruits, but the quantity was limited, and the price increased by about 20% compared to normal days. The number of customers was few, but the Market Management Board still arranged two people to check the market access tickets and ask people to ensure the 5K regulations before and after buying goods. “The number of small traders participating in the sale is not much, so the varieties of products are very modest. Many people go to nearby supermarkets but cannot buy goods there, so they visit the market which also faces insufficient supply," said Mr. Nguyen Duc Khanh, Deputy Manager of Hanh Thong Tay Market.

Before the outbreak of the pandemic, the system of three wholesale markets and 234 traditional markets in HCMC provides 70% of the volume of goods, mainly fresh food products, for the daily consumption needs of citizens. However, at this time, three wholesale markets, 201 out of 234 traditional markets, some supermarkets, and convenience stores are temporarily closed. Some districts have closed all traditional markets. This puts great pressure on the city in regulating and supplying goods to the people.
Meanwhile, Mr. Nguyen Thanh Binh, Head of the Economics Department of Phu Nhuan District, said that all four markets in the area had Covid-19 cases, so they were temporarily closed. After treatment to ensure safety against the pandemic, from the beginning of this week, the Management Board reopened Nguyen Dinh Chieu Market with more than ten stalls from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. However, the number of people shopping at the market was few, around 100 people per time, due to the small number of stalls and the lack of variety of products. "In the district, markets still have potential risks of disease transmission, so even small traders do not want to reopen," said Mr. Nguyen Thanh Binh.

The Nga Ba Bau Market in Hoc Mon District is quite crowded, with nearly 100% fresh product, vegetable, and fruit stalls open. The prices are publicly listed and barely fluctuate. Most people enter the market to buy and sell freely. At the market gate, there are two notebooks on a small plastic table for medical declaration. However, because there is no one at the check gate, people are not checked like in other markets. Through actual observation, if the Management Board of this market does not control the number of people going in and out of the market and ensure the 5K regulations, there will be a high risk of Covid-19 infection.

Reopening the market when the pandemic is under control

According to officials in many districts, reopening traditional markets to ensure the best supply of goods for people is the right policy. In the spirit of the direction to quickly reorganize the local supply points of goods, with appropriate methods to ensure safety and pandemic prevention, most district officials said that they were reviewing and evaluating the reopening of traditional markets.

The representative of the Thu Duc City Economics Department said that it deployed the policy to the management boards of more than 30 markets in the area to develop solutions and plans, especially pay attention to supply points with a local shortage of essential goods. However, with the current regulations, only a limited number of stalls can be reopened for each market, making small traders not interested in selling again. Small traders concern that, with the current pandemic situation, the reopening of sales is not profitable because the current supply of goods is not favorable, leading to higher prices in traditional markets than in supermarkets.

Similarly, Ms. Phan Trang Huong, Head of Economics Department of District 7, informed that the department had surveyed and consulted the management boards of nine markets and local authorities. Currently, there are many high-risk spots in the district. The paths to the markets are mostly blocked and isolated, so it is difficult to reopen the traditional market. According to Ms. Huong, the area of District 7 is not too large, but there are many supermarkets and convenience stores, enough to supply goods for people. Therefore, the plan to reopen traditional markets is always ready but will be carried out at an appropriate time when the pandemic is under control.

For Phu Nhuan District, Mr. Nguyen Thanh Binh proposed to strengthen mobile selling points to ensure supply. The reopening of traditional markets will be implemented at an appropriate time to effectively prevent the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is necessary to achieve unity in local awareness and behavior to overcome and bring the markets back to safety soon to diversify distribution channels. Otherwise, the modern distribution system will continue to be overloaded, and people have to find their own supplies while markets cannot perform their role.

Markets must operate in safe conditions

Deputy Director of HCMC Department of Industry and Trade Nguyen Nguyen Phuong said that the time to suspend operations or reopen traditional markets is decided by the district. The Department of Industry and Trade issued Document No.3589 on July 21, detailing the organization of markets to ensure safety to supply essential goods, food, and foodstuffs for people in the city. The Department of Industry and Trade proposed to continue publicizing the prevention of the Covid-19 pandemic at traditional markets to small traders, workers, and customers. The official dispatch clearly stated that traditional markets and points of sale only sell essential food and foodstuffs. For some localities where the pandemic is complicated, and it is difficult to resume operations of traditional markets, small-scale points of sale at the market or in residential areas should be set up to promptly supply goods to the people and ensure pandemic prevention regulations.

By Thuy Hai, Lac Phong – Translated by Thuy Doan

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