Chennai: With the lockdown in place, traders and vendors are among those who are badly hit. However, it seems they have found a new way to bounce back into business.
Mobile vans and push cart vendors are now arriving at our doorstep with fruits and vegetables and many of them were running shops earlier, it is learnt.
Initially, the civic body was facilitating them as they were selling things at reasonable rates. However now, for the city police, the mobile vendors are becoming increasingly difficult to control and are not following norms of social distancing.
The fourth lockdown came with relaxations, and that is when many people began using vehicles, autos, vans and trucks for selling vegetables and fruits. This is a huge convenience for residents and as many vehicles are available through the day at very reasonable rates. This initiative also reduced crowds at neighbourhood shops considerably.
However, the vendors allegedly do not practice social distancing, most of the time their masks hang at their neck and they do not use gloves.
Sample this, a woman police officer at Ashok Nagar spotted a man on a tri-cycle selling coconuts, lemons and amla. His mask was hung from the handle-bar of the cycle. From opposite the road she gestured him to wear the mask and then once he put it, she walked up to him and gave him a dressing-down.
At Koyambedu, even as the wholesale market remained shut, many retailers have set up makeshift shops on the road leading to the market and on the main road, forcing the City Commissioner A K Viswanathan to take action and have them removed before large crowds gathered.
A police officer said, “Many retailers began setting up shops here. These are people who have retail outlets which are closed. It was becoming a challenge for us.”
A resident pointed out that he has been warning his neighbours about the dangers of such mobile shops.
“The men selling the fruits and vegetables do not follow any hygiene practices. They carelessly touch customers while putting the items into the bags and do not wear gloves. I have told residents that they need not ask for change from the vendors due to safety reasons. We will never know how many times the coins and notes have changed hands. So in most times I ask them to keep the exact change. I also see many customers touching fruits such as mangoes before buying. This is a harmful practice in these tough times,” he said.