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Bulawayo CBD deserted as national lockdown begins

Bulawayo Central Business District (CBD), which is usually a hive of activity was Monday morning deserted as Zimbabwe entered into day one of the 21-day national lockdown as the fight against Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) intensifies.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa last Friday declared a three-week national lockdown in an effort to contain the deadly pandemic which has so far infected seven people in the country and claimed the life of media personality, Zororo Makamba.

A number of countries across the globe including Kenya, Rwanda and neighbouring South Africa are already in lockdowns with the whole world battling to halt the further spreading of COVID-19, which has infected over 530 000 and claimed more than 24 000 globally.

During Zimbabwe’s 21-day curfew which expires on April 19, businesses save for retail outlets selling foodstuffs, pharmacies and others offering critical services will remain open.

When CITE visited the CBD of Zimbabwe’s second-largest city this morning, it was deserted with very few people milling around.

Banks which, are usually characterised by long snake-winding queues of people wanting to withdraw cash were shut.

However, some supermarkets such as Pick n Pay, TM and others were open with very few individuals doing the shopping.

There were some supermarkets such as Tilus which were closed.

Pick n Pay terminus used by Tshova Mubaiwa kombis, which is usually congested by people visiting Mpilo Central and United Bulawayo Hospitals was deserted.

The city’s biggest fruit and vegetable market along 5th Avenue was also empty with the vendors’ wares covered with plastics.

Police on bicycles were patrolling the place and not allowing civilians to cross 5th Avenue.

Meanwhile, in the high-density residential areas such as Emganwini, isolated residents could be seen carrying water containers on their way to get the precious liquid from boreholes, with the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) having since closed water for the suburb over Criterion Reservoir repairs.

CITE also witnessed community sweepers also picking up garbage in the area around Emganwini shopping centre popularly known as Tashas.

A number of people working in the supermarkets and BCC employees and many others who wanted to come to town had to wait for more than an hour before a ZUPCO bus could arrive.

Some travellers who were not at designated bus stops were left behind as the ZUPCO bus carried less than half of its capacity a measure implemented by the government to reduce the possible spread of COVID-19.

As part of lockdown measures, only ZUPCO buses are allowed to transport people while private cars are not allowed to carry more than two people.

However, CITE this morning witnessed some private cars carrying more than the stipulated two passengers.

At one of the roadblocks along Plumtree Road, just after Bellevue, police were only stopping and searching private vehicles, while ZUPCO buses were allowed to pass freely.

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