On Tuesday 26th of November 2019, Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic transformation (VISET) was invited by the Harare City Council, through the Informal Sector Committee, to present its findings of the Baseline Survey on Inclusive City Planning & Design for Informal Traders in Harare city. The survey was conducted from March to June 2019 in Harare and Chitungwiza. Some of the officials who attended the presentation from the Harare City Council side included, The Acting Mayor, Chairperson of the Informal Sector Committee, 15 Elected Councillors and 6 Directors. The Baseline Survey outcomes reflected shrinking operation space for the informal traders in the Central Business District of Harare. Street vendors are the most affected as there is limited space of operation designated for their day to day business.
The presentation considered voices of selected vendors operating in greater Harare CBD, Chitungwiza and Highfields where community meetings were conducted with members of VISET. During these meetings, some of the inhibitions highlighted by the traders included lack of adequate market spaces with adequate social services such as toilets, water, shelter and proper lightening at their market spaces, exorbitant rates for market spaces, lack of capital to scale-up their activities arbitiraty confiscation of goods by police, sexual harassment and heavy handedness by police.
The research also called for the adoption of a legal instrument that supports the operations of the informal sector through updating of current municipal policies and bi-laws and ensure that they are in tandem with the growing needs of the informal economy.
The research also made the following recommendations to Harare City Council;
- Upgrading of existing neighbourhood markets into smart neighbourhood markets with all ancillary utilities. These include toilets, clean water, solar-powered lights, storage facilities, and dual-separation at source bins to encourage proper waste management at trading sites. More so, the markets must be accessible to all people, including those with disability.
- Development of incidental spaces with the potential to attract customers. These are idle spaces identified through community-led design, which can then be developed and managed by the informal traders. This requires greater collaboration between the Local Authority, vendors’ associations, residents, civil society as well as the private sector.
- Pedestrianization of the entire Speke avenue into a vending hub connecting the down-town and up-town with smart vending stalls so as to increase the supply of formal vending spaces within the city.
- Urgent review of municipal policies and bi-laws such that they incorporate the ever-growing urban informal economy into the current city local plans. This implies a more generous provision of smart vending stalls in natural markets, that is, places with particular potential for street vending because of its pedestrian flow.
- Government support through enterprise trainings, development of new markets and provision of affordable loans. This entails proper organisation of the informal traders to enable effective consolidation of their activities for scale-up. In their proposed National Policy for Urban Street Vendors (2017), VISET suggested that the government in conjunction with organisation representing vendors can create an interface between the vendors and financial institutions.
The Informal Sector Committee welcomed and accepted the presentation and will update the VISET leadership on the next steps with regards to its adoption and full actualisation.
Source: Vendors Initiative for Social Economic Transformation (VISET)