As Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA), we have been inundated with enquiries on the reported proposal or notice by Bulawayo City Council (BCC) on relocating vendors from the CBD to various trading sites in the Townships.
Firstly, we have contacted BCC to authenticate the purported decision. We were informed that BCC has not made a decision to that effect and they will make a public announcement to address that issue.
Secondly, we are aware that the relocation will be a big inconvenience to vendors and informal traders who have established a tradition to trade in the CBD. They have established a relationship with their clients, so had they established a traditional clientele.
Thirdly, we are aware that vendors and informal traders have been flocking the CBD due to lucrative clientele.
However, we have observed that the flocking into town was a result of a planning conundrum. If producers were directed to deliver their farm produces in designated townships and warehouses, our membership would not be flocking the CBD to order goods or sell because wholesalers will be accessible in Townships.
Thus, we believe that the relocation of vendors and traders will help reduce cases of women getting mugged or harassment in the wee of the morning, as they rush to the market to order goods for resale. Most of the people familiar with informal trading in Zimbabwe know that scores of people, including women, leave their homes as early as 4am to order vegetables for resale. This move in our view has a potential to reduce cases of women abuse, as they are majority players in the sector.
The move will also help to reduce costs incurred by women when commuting to town to order vegetables for resale. We believe that bringing wholesalers closer to them will thereby reduce significant transportation costs.
Our hope is that the decision will also compel BCC to provide trading spaces with proper amenities like toilets, clean running water and security in trading spaces, in line with our proposed Architectural Market Prototypes/ Designs that we shared with various stakeholders.
We also call upon BCC to fulfil the pledge of decentralising licencing so that vendors and informal traders are not inconvenienced in paying for trading licences. The norm has been that vendors and informal traders have to commute to town to pay for licences and some of them have not been paying due to prohibitive costs attached to pursuing a trading licence. BCC has promised to create accounts for vendors and informal traders so that they pay in the comfort of their homes.
We will continue encouraging vendors to practise hygiene and maintain social distancing.
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