TIRUCHY: The Sunday lockdown has greatly affected the livelihood of thousands of small traders dependent on the weekly markets in the city.
Several street vendors and traders from Tiruchy and neighbouring districts set up their makeshift stalls selling a wide range of items from vegetables to livestock in markets notably Ponmalai, which functions on Sundays, and Samayapuram goat market (on weekends).
After being closed for several months during second wave, the weekly markets were opened a few months ago and the sale was returning to normalcy.
However, a surge in Covid-19 cases once again mandated the government to impose lockdown on Sundays and night curfew on weekdays in the first weeks of January. This put a lot of traders in jeopardy.
While some decided to tackle the situation by putting up stalls on roadsides and in rural areas, others who are solely dependent on the weekly markets are left to face a huge loss. They are waiting for relaxation in lockdown restrictions.
Ashok, president of the Ponmalai Weekly Market Vendors Association, said, “The situation has been unstable for the Sunday market traders from 2020. The prolonged closure of shops has left many traders in major debt over the years. Even before they could stabilise, there came lockdown on Sundays. Though some have decided to set up shops on the streets, they are unlikely to get the same patronage like that from weekly markets. Other section of traders are jobless. Hence, the traders have requested the State government to relax the restrictions and reopen the weekly markets.”
Rajasekar, another trader from Kovilpatti village, said that most of the goods kept in stock have expired due to prolonged closure of shops. The traders are financially struggling while awaiting reopening of markets, he added.
The Samayapuram goat market, which is usually operational on Sunday, is functioning on Saturday.
People gather in large numbers at the market, flouting Covid-19 norms. Senthil, an activist, urged the administration to take action to ensure people comply to norms.