Vendors defy relocation order, occupy new street

Informal traders have illegally occupied a section of 4th Avenue in Bulawayo’s city centre after being ordered to vacate 5th Avenue to make way for the establishment of formal vending bays.

The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) and members of the Bulawayo Informal Sector Working Group resolved to set up a formal market along 5th Avenue.

The traders had until 18 February to vacate the area and make way for the setting up of vending bays.

While some have complied with the order, others are resisting and have now occupied a section of 4th Avenue.

Contacted for comment, Dumisani Ncube, the chairperson of the National SMEs Advisory Council, said their position remains the same: informal traders should vacate while the local authority completes its work.

“The position is still the same. We are saying people should go home so that bays can be established. We don’t want a situation where the police will end up confiscating their goods, so we are saying people should just cooperate and stay at home,” he said.

Ncube said they have engaged vendors’ association leaders concerning the occupation of 4th Avenue.

“We have again engaged the leaders of various associations to inform their members to vacate 4th Avenue. I am from a meeting where we just told them, and we have agreed that they should vacate. We are not saying people should leave 5th Avenue and go trade in another street, we just don’t want illegal activity in the city centre until we sort them out,” he explained.

Vendors for ED patron Tendai Charuka, however, said vendors have complied with the order to vacate 5th Avenue.

“People have followed the council order and they have vacated 5th Avenue to allow the council to do their work,” said Charuka.

“Those who were selling there will be given first preference, and if we have extra bays, then the council can allocate them to other people who are on their waiting list.”

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