OVER 600 informal vendors operating at the Lobengula mall in Bulawayo will be displaced by the end of November as the Bulawayo City Council moves to clear the areas around Batch Street terminus, popularly known as Egodini, in its efforts to turn the place into a regional transport hub and shopping complex.
The revelations come after council issued a four-month notice to small-scale businesspeople operating in the area to vacate the same area by December 19.
Speaking during the World Day for Decent Work commemorations organised by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) in Bulawayo on Monday, Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Association (ZCEA) Matabeleland region chapter president Edward Manning expressed concerns that members of his association would be rendered jobless if the directive was implemented.
“About 603 vendors operating at the Lobengula Mall are being displaced by the end of November,” Manning said.
“This means that people who have been earning a living through selling at the place will now have no place to operate from. As the mayor is here, we ask him and the city council to look into this issue. It is known that a single vendor operating in that place is fending for a family of more than two people and their displacement means over a thousand people are affected.”
Manning said the proposed displacement of vendors was a serious issue which the local authority must take seriously.
He also bemoaned lack of decent facilities for the informal sector operating in council-administered areas saying they experienced a lot of harassment and arrests by council security and the police.
“Our members are ill-treated every day. It is known that there are no jobs in the country and people earn a living by selling, but it’s sad that they find themselves on the wrong side of the law without having stolen anything from any one,” he said.
“Those operating in the city council-administered areas do not have shelter and we ask council to provide them shelter as they are paying for operations to the local authority.”
Manning said his association’s members were not accessing the small-to-medium enterprises loans which the government unveiled some time ago.
He challenged the government to enforce a policy which would see all vendors accessing such funds to help them.
Mayor Martin Moyo only called for stakeholders to create employment for the city’s residents and did not respond to Manning’s remarks.
A council notice (Ref TR8) dated August 19 2013 states that the local authority resolved to offer an undisclosed company a tender to redevelop Batch Street terminus and advised all occupants in the area to wind up operations.
The council advised the occupants to clear all their arrears amounting to $2 898,95 as at August 31 2013 within the given period.