Bulawayo City Council (BCC) is yet to complete the allocation of vending bays for informal traders who were relocated from the Central Business District (CBD).
The local authority in April announced it would relocate 604 vendors trading in the CBD to identified vending sites close to their residential areas in order to decongest the city centre as well as to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Responding to questions emailed by CITE, BCC Senior Public Relations Officer Nesisa Mpofu said no new vending licenses have been issued yet but only vendors with valid 2020 licenses have been allowed to trade.
“We have not issued any new vending licences but have allowed only those with valid 2020 licences to trade. The previous vending sites were redesigned and the number of bays were reduced by an average of 50% as the new bays are double in size to allow for social distancing in line with COVID -19 protocols. The current strategy is to allow only the 2020 licenced vendors in the Central Business District to resume trading and the rest shall be considered in Suburban centres,” Mpofu said.
Mpofu said only three vending sites are now fully operational and are all in compliance with the Covid-19 regulations.
“City Hall has 96 vendors, Highlanders has 367 vendors and Sekusile has 106 vendors,” she said.
Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association director, Michael Ndiweni expressed concern at the snail-pace at which the council was moving in relocating the informal traders.
“The city council has been extremely slow in availing necessary resources. In places such as Entumbane, we haven’t seen any progress. However, as an association, with assistance from our partners, we have chipped in at some areas with water dispensers and sanitisers,” he said.
“There is quite a number of vendors that we assisted to process their vending licenses and up to now there hasn’t been any response from the council. We are yet to sit down with them (BCC) and find out why they are taking so long to respond to the applications.”
Informal traders in Cowdray Park told CITE that they have been waiting for communication from council on the way forward after sending in their applications. Collet Ndlovu, former councillor for Ward 28 who now runs a vegetable market facility in Cowdray Park, said vending stalls are ready but the local authority is delaying in processing the licenses.
“Water and ablution facilities are all set here. The only thing holding us back is the issuance of licenses, we can’t allocate the vendors any stalls if the council hasn’t approved,” Ndlovu said.