BCC considers giving businesses control of pavements  

The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) is considering giving businesses operating in the city centre control of spaces in front of their establishments in an effort to reduce illegal vending activities.

Currently, pavements are controlled by the local authority and any business undertaken on the streets and pavements needs approval by the council.

Addressing the business sector at a consultative meeting on the state of uncleanliness in Bulawayo Wednesday, Chamber Secretary, Sikhangele Zhou, said the council, through the Town Planning Department, was considering giving businesses more control over the spaces in front of their establishments. 

“We are looking at how best we can give you control of the spaces in front of your businesses. Because now the pavement belongs to the City of Bulawayo, even if you build your verandah, someone will sit there and you can’t do anything to them because you are not in control of that space,” Zhou said. 

This consideration, however, was still in its early stages, as BCC was still discussing its feasibility. 

“It hasn’t passed yet but we want to hear, if it will work before we take it forward to our (parliamentarians to pass as law),” said the chamber secretary. 

“There are many issues. I know that you are worried about this issue of unlawful activities in the streets, especially vending, which is affecting a lot of business. The vending happens at your doorstep and vendors are selling the same things that you are selling in your shop and the person in front of your doorstep because they have no loan, no licenses and no taxes to pay probably undercut you in terms of prices.” 

Meanwhile, the chamber secretary expressed regret that only a few business representatives had attended the council engagement meeting. 

“I was told that we had invited five groupings or associations of business and we had asked each association to bring five members. It’s disappointing though that there are seven of you in this room, which means maybe it’s one association and half of the other one,” Zhou said. 

“We want to hear your input but you see sometimes the price you pay for not participating in these meetings is we who are here, will make decisions for you and they may not be what we want and then people complain afterwards. But if we all put our heads together, usually it will be helpful to us, so we’re hoping to have more people here.” 

Zhou said for instance, it would have been beneficial for the retailers’ association to have been present as “they were the ones who are undercut more than any everybody else.” 

“We would have hoped that every grouping of business attends because it is affected by this because the street is dirty and is unattractive for business. It’s all in our interest that we put our heads together,” said the chamber secretary.

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