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Informal traders implore council to upgrade infrastructure at flea markets

Informal traders operating from the Highlanders flea market in Bulawayo have appealed to the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to upgrade infrastructure at the market to improve their working conditions.

This came out during a Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) community briefing meeting, on Friday, to present the findings of a survey that was conducted on the availability of vending bays and market services.

Speaking during the meeting, Brighton Moyo said the available vending bays are not numbered making it difficult for the customers to locate them.

He also said they are currently opening in the open space with self-made vending sheds.

“There is also the issue of vending sheds, we are just in the open and people are trying to put in their own sheds but still it’s not proper. There is the security issue, people get robbed each and every day, you can not even put your bag down and the thieves even snatch our customers’ bags,” said Moyo.

“We even have the transport issue, it’s difficult for our customers to walk all the way from Highlander flea market to TM hyper, our customers are always complaining about transport issues.”

In addition, Dorin Selimani said even though the traders were given stand numbers, the stands are not properly numbered.

Another vendor said there is also poor storage facilities adding that during the rainy season they find their wares wet.

VISET acting programs manager Edward Kapodogo said a number of issues came out during the research outreach.

“We conducted research in ward 1, there were a number of issues which came out, some of them were challenges, some of them were positives of what is happening in the ward. Today we were trying to unpack the findings of the survey , it was more of unpacking the findings of the survey as a feedback because we want to make sure that there is a feedback loop of our work which we are doing,” said Kapodogo.

“The idea is after we share these findings, we are trying to make sure that the authorities are aware of some of these issues and we are also trying to check how we can co-assist and create solutions to issues affecting communities.”

Edward Kapodogo

According to the survey findings, 42 percent of the respondents operating in Ward 1 said the quality of the market infrastructure was average, while 24 percent said it was bad.

The survey also revealed that 72 percent of the respondents indicated that the authorities were not responsive to complaints.

Responding to some of the issues which came out in the survey, Bulawayo City Council (BCC)  Town Planner, Shelton Sithole said there is a high demand for space in the city, especially among informal traders.

BCC Town Planner Shelton Sithole

“What we must understand is that the City is designed in such a way that we now need to accommodate everyone but the challenge is that the formal economy has been overtaken by the informal economy,” he said.

“As a local authority we don’t want to take that as a challenge but we do take it as an opportunity,” said Sithole.

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