Clamp on illegal ‘Friday bazaar’ in Bahrain

Overcrowding, lack of social distancing and other offences were registered


Authorities cracked down on an illegal ‘Friday bazaar’ that attracted hundreds of labourers in a secluded part of Ras Zuwayed in the Southern Governorate – with majority of them not wearing masks and violating social distancing protocols.

Street vendors sold clothes, vegetables, fish and other items on the roadside market in an open area, surrounded by labour camps housing workers of different nationalities.

Teams from the Industry, Commerce and Tourism Ministry, Labour Market Regulatory Authority, Nationality, Passport and Residence Affairs, Southern Governorate and the Interior Ministry raided the market on Friday and cleaned up the site.

“More than 200 street vendors were cleared from the site where they sold fruits, vegetables and other items. Twelve trucks were deployed to remove their products,” said Industry, Commerce and Tourism Ministry assistant under-secretary for Control and Resources Abdulaziz Al Ashraf.

He said while not all street vendors were illegal, teams found several safety and health threats that violated Covid-19 protocols.

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.

“Legal action was taken against violators,” he added.

“The teams also visited shops in the area to brief them about health requirements. One commercial outlet was found to be overcrowded and was shut down for violating rules.”

Mr Al Ashraf said teams interacted with workers during the inspection to highlight the importance of wearing a face mask, washing hands and social distancing.

“The ministry will continue its inspection campaigns across the country in order to catch violators, and warns commercial outlets to abide by health and safety rules.”

The ministry even posted a video that showed fruits, vegetables and clothes strewn around in the open area. Crowds of labourers were also seen walking around in the presence of police and other teams that took part in the raid.

The GDN in 2017 reported about the remote Ras Zuwayed area that houses labourers, mostly from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, who throng the illegal roadside market during weekends.

Food vendors, tailors and even barbers set up shops offering services and goods at a cheaper price compared with the small number of shops operating in the area.

For example, 500 fils for a haircut and clothes ranging between 100 fils and BD3.

Meanwhile, a restaurant owner in the area yesterday said the weekend market posed a risk as it flouts health and Covid-19 rules.

“The weekend Friday roadside market is held from 5am until 9pm and also on public holidays,” the owner, who did not wish to be identified, told the GDN.

“You can see many workers here who do not wear masks and the area is overcrowded because of a concentration of labour camps.

“This illegal bazaar has been operating for a while now and despite authorities conducting raids, vendors show up again on a Friday morning to sell their goods and merchandise.”

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