The informal sector and public transport operators have proposed that the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) effect a 15 percent increase in rates instead of the 56 percent tabled by the local authority citing economic hardships.
BCC is embarking on consultative meetings with various stakeholders around the city as it gathers input to its proposed $288 035 850 supplementary budget.
Residents have already objected to the municipality`s plans to increase rates by more than 100 percent.
The local authority is proposing to increase rates for public transport operators from $75 to $117, monthly charges for vending bays from $50 to $89.70 while proposing to increase charges for weekend vending from $13.04 to $23.39.
Speaking at a consultative meeting with vendors and public transport operators on Monday, the city`s finance director Kimpton Ndimande said the increase was due to the inflationary environment.
However, the vendors and public transport operators said the increase in rates will push them out of business.
“56% increase is too much for vendor considering the economic situation. None of the people who buy from vendors have their salaries increased hence the amount would not tally with profits vendors make,” said Percy Mcijo an official from the Street Wise Traders Association.
Vendors decried that even if the supplementary budget is passed; their sector would not benefit.
“The proposed budget would not change anything because the council doesn’t develop our working spaces. By 6th Av extension, there are no toilets. Council promised mobile toilets but there is nothing,” said a disgruntled vendor.
“Bulawayo is not prone to cholera but at this pace, 6th Avenue extension and Market would record cholera cases. Garbage is not collected, the places are just a mess.
“If we don’t fix the toilet issue at Egodini, there will be cholera outbreak. We can’t wait up to November to fix the issue,” added another disgruntled vendor.
In response, council authorities said it could not deploy mobile toilets to those sites as they will be overwhelmed.
Vendors also urged the municipality to find other alternatives to raise revenue.
“I suggest that illegal vendors be not arrested but pay a spot fine just like in Botswana. It can be a money-making tool,” said one participant.
Of late, the council has been raiding illegal vendors and confiscating their wares.
Another vendor suggested the council should have an anti-corruption unit which would monitor incoming revenue to plug any leakages and prevent corruption and theft.