Bulawayo fresh farm produce vendors have threatened to sue
the local authority if it does not reverse its decision of removing
them from the central business district (CBD) as it moves to
decongest the area as part of efforts to fight the spread of
Bulawayo City Council permanently closed the Fifth avenue fresh farm produce market and the open-air flea market near council’s tower block.
Chairperson of the Street Wise Informal Traders Association and former Ward One councillor Edward Manning said his association was ready to
engage Bulawayo City Council but if the engagement fails to
yield positive results they will seek justice at the courts.
Manning said his association represents all informal traders
that operate in the CBD.
“We are engaging council but we have a slight problem
of getting the leadership into town because of the national
lockdown. We have to solve this problem amicably or else
we will have to take the legal route which we took during “Operation Restore Order”
where we won the case. We are not there by chance, the High
Court Order then said we must go back to where we were operating from,” Manning said.
He said they told city council to re-arrange them so that the place is not congested.
“We told council that we don’t want to be packed like sardines because it is very unfair for the vendors trading inside,” he said.
Manning said for a very long time they have been talking to
council about decongesting the fifth avenue market.
“We came up with ideas of how to decongest the area and
our plan was to put two rows on either side of the road and
this was going to promote free trade among the vendors,” he
Manning said most of the councillors do not agree with the move by technocrats to remove vendors along Fifth Avenue.
Bulawayo Vendors Traders Association (BVTA) is the only
organisation representing informal traders that welcomed
the move to relocate vendors to suburban areas.
BVTA director Michael Ndiweni said the relocation of vendors in residential areas would reduce cases of women being mugged while getting
into the CBD to order stock and also cut on transport costs
Housing and Community Service director Dictor Khumalo said they are not going back on their decision but their doors are wide open for any
engagement with the informal traders on the way forward.
Khumalo said they have identified vending places in
high residential areas where the vendors will be relocated to.
“We have identified so many places other than suburban
areas; we have another place near Highlanders Sports Club
which has been paved and has running water and toilets
which are the requirements in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Some of the traders will be accommodated at Highlanders,” Khumalo said.
He said the new vending stalls will be spaced accordingly so that the vendors and their customers are safe. Khumalo said shopping centres in
western and eastern suburbs in Bulawayo have designated
vending places so that people are able to get vegetables close
to where they live.
Local authorities across the country are removing vendors
from the CBD in an effort to fight the spread of the highly
contagious coronavirus and also to decongest the city