The Sunday News
Mollet Ndebele, Sunday News Reporter
INFORMAL traders in Bulawayo have blamed the city council for failing to come up with convenient vending sites, two years after they were evicted from Egodini to pave way for the construction of a mall and bus terminus.
More than 1 000 vendors were allocated space near Highlanders Football Clubhouse between Fife Street and Masotsha Avenue, but most have left the place citing low business.
They argued the place was far from the city centre which is their major market and some relocated to undesignated areas in the Central Business District.
In an interview last week, Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association executive director Mr Michael Mdladla Ndiweni said the city council has, despite numerous pleas, failed to provide a convenient place to accommodate the 1 047 vendors who were affected by the relocation.
“The vendors could not settle at Highlanders Market because there is no market, it is just an open place therefore they moved back into the city centre in a bid to be close to the customers.
“We approached the city council and they promised to look into it two years back. We even suggested that they turn the place into a taxi rank so that more people can come to the market but that was not done,” he said.
Mr Ndiweni said the city council has been coming up with many promises to address the issue but nothing was showing on the ground.
“They promised to assist but nothing has been done. Instead, municipal police are raiding vendors of their goods and this is a huge setback because it is difficult to restock and to reclaim the goods once they are taken by police,” he said.
It has become a common sight in the CBD to see running battles between vendors and municipal police. Council acting director of Housing and Community Services Mr Thabani Ncube said economic challenges were affecting the local authority and this was curtailing a number of projects.
“Vendors by their nature chase after potential clients. Even the legalised vendors move out of their bays to scout for customers. Even the said land or bays will not resolve the vending menace. At Highlanders, more than 800 bays were created to cater for vending. Now to create the market for vendors, it was planned that some transporters plying north bound routes would pick and drop passengers there.
“Our planning branch is the lead department in engaging our key stakeholders, the transporters on relocation plans. However, as alluded earlier, we will always have running battles with vendors. They are daring, selling even right in front of our City Hall offices,” said Mr Ncube.