Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) today, 13 March 2019, conducted a disaster assessment tour with the Harare City Council at Glen Area 8 furniture complex in which was gutted down by an inferno yesterday evening.

VISET is concerned and alarmed at the recurring fires which keep on destroying the complex resulting in furniture stocks worth hundreds of thousands of dollars being lost. There is need to put closure and finality on this issue by all stakeholders involved because livelihoods are being destroyed and income lost in the fires that have become a frequent happening at the complex.

After touring the Complex and interacting with eye witnesses and those who lost their wares, VISET makes the following recommendations:

Improving safety

The Glen View 8 complex has a serious challenge of safety as there is no policy providing guidelines and measures to ensure safe operations and disposal of wood shavings and chuff from the furniture production processes. There is thus need to improve safety by establishing rules for safety procedures and providing training to the traders at the place. Fire extinguishers should also be installed as well as adequate fire hydrants so that the fire brigade can put out the fires when they respond to a call.

City of Harare must be proactive

The operations of the complex are not well regulated by the City of Harare as it is run by a cooperative but it is now important for the council to be proactive and provide management services to the place which shall include regulating dangerous activity which may trigger fires and even deployment of fire monitors to the place.

Formalisation of operations

VISET has long advocated for formalisation of the informal sector so as to increase regulation and standardise operations of the sector. This is now more urgent for Glen View area 8 complex which would benefit immensely from regulation as it would improve safety and increase income and hence taxes which the government can benefit from.

Launch an investigation

Given the narratives from witnesses and victims of the inferno, there is certainly more than meets the eye and as such the City of Harare should embark on a multipronged investigation which will establish all the facts of what is happening at the complex, hold anyone who may be liable to account and come up with action points for implementation.

As VISET we stand ever ready to cooperate and work with the authorities to see that progress is made in the Glen View 8 complex issue so that livelihoods of the informal workers there are secured and their operations formalised.

Source: Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET)