LAHORE: The Punjab Agricultural Marketing Regulatory Authority (PAMRA) decided to install 134 disinfection walkthrough gates to protect more than 300,000 daily commuters from the coronavirus threat in vegetable markets across the province.
Loans are being issued from the provincial development board fund for the installation of gates, which will cost more than Rs50million, to market committees due to a lack of financial resources. A total of three gates were activated in different markets of the provincial on Friday whereas two more gates will be activated in markets of the city today.
However, the joint auction of agricultural commodities had been abolished to reduce the crowd of people during the auction.
A separate time had been set for the auction of each agricultural commodity while the help desk had been set up in every market. Moreover, 1,200 washing points were set up in all markets of the province for citizens to wash their hands. Special arrangements had been made for the germicidal spray in the markets on a daily basis.
As per the details, all markets had been kept open to meet the nutritional needs of the people during the lockdown. In the midst of the coronavirus threat, it was a challenge for the provincial government to protect millions of people, who visit the market for shopping, from the contagion.
In this regard, Punjab Agriculture Secretary Wasif Khurshid had taken special steps, on the direction of Punjab Chief Secretary Azam Suleman Khan, according to which it was decided to install a specially designed ‘disinfection walkthrough gate’ on the entrances of 134 vegetable markets in Punjab. Preparation of a gate costs up to Rs.0.3 million. Each citizen who enters the market had to pass through this gate where water, mixed with chlorine, will be sprayed on them.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, PAMRA Director General Shaukat Ali said that on usual days, people experience a severe rush in the markets. “Therefore, markets had been given special attention to prevent the spread of the virus.”
Disinfection walkthrough gates were being installed on an emergency basis. A large number of points had been made for washing hands in each market. In addition to setting separate times for agricultural commodity auctions, to reduce rush, the germicidal spray is being ensured on auction platforms.
Personal protection kit had been provided to staff of market committees deployed in the markets. Online lectures on virus prevention were being given to the market’s middlemen and committee staff. The DG added that there is a large amount of vegetables, fruits and pulses available in the market across the province. “There is no fear of any shortage. We develop strategies, on a daily basis, by obtaining figures of commodity sale and stocks.”
Responding to a question, PAMRA DG said that the market committees, that lack financial resources to take action against the coronavirus, had been started to provide special loans from the provincial development board fund.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 5th, 2020.
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