Manama: The authorities have cracked down on illegal street vendors in three governorates to help curb the spread of Covid-19.
The inspections were carried out in the Capital Governorate, Northern Governorate and Southern Governorate yesterday in a series of well-co-ordinated swoops.
Teams from the Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Ministry cleared more than 350 illegal street vendors from their patches who were attracting large crowds in Manama, Salmabad and Ras Zuwayed.
The Industry, Commerce and Tourism Ministry shared a video on social media of the operation which showed stalls being cleared, notices issued and illegal traders fleeing the scene.
The raids were carried out in co-operation with other government departments and agencies including the Interior Ministry, Nationality, Passport and Residence Affairs, Labour Market Regulatory Authority, Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Ministry and Health Ministry.
The Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry also played a part as its members suffer as a result of the illegal stalls taking away business and operating without any care or consideration to buyers, plying produce often dirty and unsafe.
Commerce and Tourism Ministry assistant under-secretary for Control and Resources Abdulaziz Al Ashraf said that inspections were specifically staged to help prevent Covid-19 from being spread, with clear violations of measures introduced to tackle the recent spike in infections.
“These illegal street vendors are putting lives at risk by attracting crowds of people,” he said. “More than 350 street vendors have been cleared away and their products confiscated, including fruits, vegetables, fish and clothes, along with other items.”
He also pointed out the health and safety concerns with food spread out for sale on dirty mattresses, blocking roads and paths, with some placed in front of shops run by merchants who, as well as paying rent and licensing fees, were facing other financial burdens during the pandemic.
However, not all the traders were playing by the rules. Fifteen shops were closed for breaking Covid-19 regulations. Several people were also fined for not wearing face masks.
The GDN recently reported a similar crackdown on an illegal ‘Friday bazaar’ that attracted hundreds of labourers in a secluded part of Ras Zuwayed.
Overcrowding, lack of social distancing and other offences were registered. Inspectors also found products sold on the street that did not meet the regulatory standards.