Sindh Government is asleep, as Karachi’s mandis are fast becoming breeding grounds for COVID-19. With the country already in the terrorizing grip of COVID-19, most people are strictly following Government SOPs even whilst doing day to day errands like buying fruits from the street vendors or purchasing vegetables from the local grocer; all for the sake of their family and loved ones. Little do they know that their efforts to keep safe are in vain because of the silent killer that they are bringing inside their homes.
Karachi is the hub for vegetable, fruit and fishing markets alongside having the biggest sabzi mandi located on the Super Highway. This makes it one of the most vulnerable places for the spread of covid-19. Every day, thousands of people ranging from upcountry growers, brokers to general public visit the sabzi mandi, all of whom are at a high risk of being infected by the virus. Despite social distancing orders, the mandi is brimming with crowds of people each day, none of whom are wearing masks let alone using hand sanitizers or disinfectants. While the Government is focused on implementing SOPs in temporary cattle mandis, already established mega markets like; sabzi mandis and fish markets are not given much heed importance and attention in terms of problem solving.
The sabzi mandi and fisheries are packed with people, with no sanitization gates, sanitizers, masks or gloves, people bargain in crammed spaces, spreading germs to people around them and also to the goods being sold. In conversation with a local vegetable hawker we were informed,
“I go each day to the sabzi mandi, where there are millions of people. None of the SOPs are being followed, people buy/sell goods with their bare hands, prayers are offered in the masjid with people standing shoulder to shoulder in a single file. In addition to this there are huge crowds in the food stalls where people sit together with no trace of social distancing”.
The same situation can also be witnessed in the fish markets where the non-existence of SOPs have made it a breeding ground for the corona virus. The question is, with the whole country wrapped in fear of growing covid cases, why are the concerned authorities failing to take strict measures to implement SOPs in mandis and fish markets?; who is to blame for this utter negligence in their duty towards the public?
Sindh Government’s indifference towards the severity of the issue is putting people in danger. Their ignorance will cost the general public their lives, since it gives rise to a chain of events. Farmers and growers from Punjab and upcountry bring their harvest to Karachi mandis where transactions take place without any precautions against Covid-19.