Integrate informal traders in urban planning, councils told

Stakeholders have called on local authorities to integrate the informal sector in the current urban councils’ planning as they also play a crucial role in the economy. 

This came out during a digital Indaba on Inclusive Cities planning and designing hosted by Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) in collaboration with Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET), Friday, to promote the inclusive city planning and designing. 

Speaking during the meeting BVTA executive director, Michael Ndiweni said the association has noted that the voices of vendors are often excluded in city planning and designing. 

He said they embarked on a study three years ago after noticing challenges around access to proper trading spaces for vendors.  

“As part of the findings of the study it was realised that there seems to be exclusive planning where the voices and aspiration of traders are not included in city planning and designing, this seems to be the work for experts, technocrats who will seat with due respect in their offices and then think on behalf of vendors and traders, come up with designs, structures,” said Ndiweni. 

“What then appeared was that for instance you have a one by one square meter drawn on the floor or surface and then that is defined as trading space for a  vendor, so then that told us that it is not what vendors and traders want but they want proper dignified structures.” 

Giving the outcomes of the study, Linda Mangwaro Ndiweni a researcher from NUST in the Faculty of Built Environment said there is a need to produce new interconnecting market designs. 

“We need to interconnect and consider Bulawayo, we are looking at what has happened in our sixth avenue market, all vendors have been taken off so that means it translates to over 150  informal workers who have been displaced and who are now out of employment and they have been thrown somewhere,” she said. 

“We need to come up with new interconnecting markets designs.” 

Ndiweni said there is a need to learn from other cities and identify informal market infrastructure policies 

“We need to learn from the Joburg market, it is vibrant and working when we were designing, we considered stalls that are suitable but also now we have to consider our 80percent of the population are in the informal sector, we then now have to have an informal market infrastructure policy,” he said. 

Another participant, Melusi Moyo said there is a need to include all players to harness the resources collected from the informal sector. 

“For us to move together with the local authorities, what is important is to include all players so that we are able to harness the resources that we collect from the informal sector, we need to have another eye when we look at the informal sector as they contribute 80-90 percent of our economy,” said Moyo. 

Obrien Makore said local authorities have to learn from the Covid-19 experience and integrate the informal sector. 

“This Covid-19 thing if there is something, we have to learn from it, is that this is the time now to mainstream the informal sector economy in our current urban economy set up,” said Makore. 

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