Space Barons Terrorising Informal Traders

Informal traders have bemoaned the avarice exhibited by space barons who are hoarding selling bays to rent them out at exhobitant prices, thereby pushing informal traders to sell at undesignated spaces such as pavements.

Speaking at a convention held at Church Hill hotel in Bulawayo earlier this week, the Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) President, Aleck Ndlovu urged local authorities to rein in the ruthless space barons that line their pockets with revenue that is supposed to be collected by the local authority.

“How can an individual own sixty five percent of the trading space in the city? Something needs to be done about these greedy space barons who take revenue and use it for themselves,” he said.

The Monitoring and Evaluation Officer of Vendors Initiative for Social Transformation (VISET), Edward Kapodogo added his voice saying, “It is so unfair that a space which is supposed to benefit about twenty informal traders is owned by one person and this has a lot of negative effects on the sector as the local authority is losing out on revenue.”

Kapodongo further highlighted that the problem of land barons is an important issue to consider during the transition process so that the space barons are dealt with effectively and decisively.

Bulawayo City Council Town Planner, Shelton Sithole said space barons cannot function from a site that is fully structured hence the need to formalise the informal sector. He posited that the formalisation of the sector will promote the recognition of human rights within the sector.

Sithole further emphasised the need for vendors to sell their wares on designated bays.

“…confiscation of goods will never happen to vendors who operate on lawful vending sites. Those who sell their wares on pavements may have their goods seized by the council.”

Due to the high unemployment rate in the country, there has been an increased number of citizens joining the informal sector causing the local authority to struggle with a massive back log in serving the needs of the ballooning vendor population in need of selling bays.

The International Labour Organisation Executive, Anna Marie attributed the “root cause” of the ballooning informal sector to the inability of most governments to provide emplyment opportunities for its citizens.

BVTA Executive Director Michael Ndiweni called on informal traders as well as stakeholders to devise innovative ways to ensure the formalisation of the informal industry.

Source: Community Podium

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