Zambia’s largest fresh produce outlet, Soweto market in Lusaka, failed to meet standards of cleanliness and sanitation set out in the Public Health Act.
The market with its more than 1 000 fresh food stalls also lacked proper water drainage systems, giving rise to the potential outbreak of water-borne diseases like cholera.
“There is no way we can allow this to happen so long after independence. I don’t understand,” said a shocked Minister of Local Government, Vincent Mwale. He toured the market on Tuesday.
Mwale, accompanied by Gender Minister Victoria Kalima, was shocked that the market did not have toilets or proper drainage. Vegetables are put on the ground near stagnant water.
“What needs to happen here is an entire upgrade to the place,” Mwale said.
He said the upgrade should precede the creation of a board which will handle the management of the market.
He said in addition to upgrading, measures must be put in place to regularly monitor the quality of produce sold.
“We have to educate and inform both the consumers and the traders on the importance of clean and healthy food that is free from contamination,” Mwale said.
A survey of the market shows the storage systems for fresh produce are below standard.
Consumers are also concerned about the possible use of chemicals, especially those used to make meat products appear red and fresh.
“Along with the controls, the Ministry of Health must also raise awareness of food consumption behaviour so that there is more caution against consumption of food products that could lead to diseases,” said Frank Nyondo, a resident of Lusaka.