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Traders’ action restores electricity in a Vic Falls market

Victoria Falls Tarven market informal traders have successfully lobbied the local authority to restore yearlong power crisis at their market place in Chinotimba, in the newly minted City of Victoria Falls. Power supply was disconnected by the country’s power utility – Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA),  after discovering that the Victoria Falls City Council had defaulted to service market electricity bills.

“Victoria Falls City Council is liable to  pay the bill of electricity used at the Tarven Market, utilities such as electricity and water bills are included in our monthly rents so we blame the council for the power outages,’’ said Simiso  Moyo, Vice Secretary at Tarven market. “After reconnecting the electricity for us, the council told us to purchase a pre-paid electricity meter that costs US $114, the situation has now improved because the council  ended up buying the pre-paid meter for us, now we are responsible for purchasing electricity and load it into our pre-paid meter,’’ added Moyo.

Moyo told the Vendors Voice that the council was taking long to solve the power outages, until the group took it upon itself to engage the local authority to resolve the matter.     

The informal traders revealed that the city council was responsible for paying their electricity bills but they were shocked to discover that there was tempering of the meter that further complicated the issue but they continued lobbying until the problem was resolved.

Traders have applauded Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) for equipping them with advocacy skills that they used to address   the accumulated electricity debts.

BVTA has been implementing the Vendors Accountability Laboratories and Voices Enhancement (VALVE) project, a project that sought to ensure that vendors and informal traders hold duty bearers and authorities accountable for service delivery issues. After the social accountability and advocacy trainings by BVTA, Victoria Falls informal traders were able to query local authorities.

The power outages challenge started last year and this affected the traders as electricity is an essential part in the market, they use it for lighting and refrigerating foodstuffs which include vegetables, beverages and other things.

The   power supply was reconnected after the city council paid the reconnection fee of 17000 RTGS.  

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