Informal traders await promised vending bays

By Ndumiso Tshuma

Informal traders who were operating along 5th Avenue in Bulawayo city centre have urged the council to urgently set up vending bays so they can resume operations.

Currently, the informal traders are still operating from the site despite the local authority having cordoned off the area to make way for the cleaning of the area, demarcation of bays, construction of safe working spaces and allocation of vending bays.

Once complete, the area will accommodate 500 vendors.

Of concern, the vendors told CITE, is the time the council has taken to complete the job, which was meant to take two weeks. As a result, the vendors often endure harassment from authorities who either chase them away or seize their goods.

“The way the city council is harassing us is unfair,” lamented Skhulele Tshaba. “They use brutal force to take our products and we are forced to flee to save them. Some of us are older, so running can cause harm. We ask the city council to fix the infrastructure they promised us so we can operate legally.”

Another vendor, Brown Ngwenya, said they can’t stay at home while waiting for the council to complete the work as they have families to feed.

“I am taking care of four children and cannot afford to sit at home while they go hungry,” he said.

Thobela Mhlanga said that as a young person, he chose to venture into vending due to limited employment opportunities in the city.

“This is my only source of survival, and I do not want to end up resorting to crime. However, it is painful when council officials take our stuff, which we bought using our hard-earned cash,” he said.

The local authority has also set up an Informal Traders Market at the recently opened Egodini Taxi Rank, but informal traders say there are many restrictions as they are not allowed to sell perishables such as fruits and vegetables.

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