Covid-19 protocols lax at cattle markets

Bhains Colony market could turn into a super spreader


With muck puddles a common sight, and the smell of dung wafting from every nook and cranny of the megacity, Karachi appears to have morphed into a giant petting zoo over the last few weeks.

People in tens and thousands, come rain or pandemic, can be seen rushing to the various livestock bazaars; often with children in tow and no regard for health advisory.

Once in the market, there seem to be very few operating in accordance with the government’s [coronavirus] guidelines, and dozens that fall out of the ambits of health, safety and the law.

Out of the six government-approved cattle markets, locally known as mandis, the biggest has been set up in the Sorab Goth area, under the administration of the Malir Cantonment Board. The remaining five are also established under supervision of different district managements: District Municipal Corporation (DMC) Malir has set up two markets in Bhains Colony and Aso Goth near Malir No. 15, DMC West has a market in Manghopir, DMC Korangi in Korangi and DMC Kemari in Mowach Goth.

As for the smaller illegal markets, they seem to be scattered across Karachi, often sprawling out of the city’s many footpaths and service roads.

However, most prominent among these are centered in urban centres like Hassan Square, Liaquatabad, Lyari, Yasinabad, Shaheed Millat Road, Tin Hatti, Jahangir Road, Quaidabad, Landhi, Korangi, Shah Faisal Colony, Mahmoodabad and Gulshan-e-Iqbal.

Sorab Goth According to The Express Tribune’s survey of the Sorab Goth mandi, although the administration has made a few arrangements for sanitation and coronavirus safety on ground, the visiting public largely appears to be ignorant of the pandemic.

Per sources visiting the 900 acre cattle market, adherence to health advisory can only be seen at a few sections of the Sorab Goth mandi.

“The does administration blare coronavirus-safety announcements every 10 minutes, but hardly anyone pays any heed to it and there is no strict enforcement of SOPs.”

In addition to that, accumulated rainwater and residual muck puddles have become another reeking nescience and a health hazard in the market. Sellers reveal that certain areas that are considered VIP blocks have received prompt service from the administration, with immediate and on-going drainage of the accumulated rainwater.

Whereas, low-lying, backwater segments are still flooded with water from the last downpour.

Muhammad Aslam, a livestock trader camped near Gate number 4 of the mandi complained that he was made to pay Rs50,000 to the administration for putting up his stall, but his section of the market is yet to catch the management’s attention. “The accumulated, rotting water has become a risk to my animals’ health,” he claimed.

According to market administration spokesperson Yawar Chawla however, the Sorab Goth mandi, being the largest in the city, has been provided with sanitation, face masks, security, parking, veterinarians, two healthcare centers and two ambulances, in addition to arrangements for CCTV and access to fire tender.

Furthermore, the market administration has also set up a Covid-19 vaccination center in the mandi, in collaboration with the Sindh government. “So far, over 30 people have been vaccinated at the market, while many have been tested and are under examination,” said Dr Asadullah, who is stationed at the Sorab Goth mandi vaccination centre.

Bhains colony

The second-largest livestock market, administrated by DMC Malir, is set up the Bhains Colony area. Conditions here, appear to be much worse than the Sorabh Goth mandi which blossoms in comparison. Per citizens, limited space, muck and piles of garbage in the area have all obstructed the marketgoers’ mobility, making it difficult to maintain social distancing in crowded situations.

“Other than that, there has been no regard for any Covid-19 SOPs here and rainwater is left to stand and rot for days without the administration batting an eyelash,” revealed Mumtaz Baloch, a livestock trader in the market.