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Turning Popular Trade Spot into Mall Angers Informal Traders

  • Nothando Sibanda

Street vendors sell loaves of bread and other wares on streets. (File Photo)

Street vendors sell loaves of bread and other wares on streets. (File Photo)

Informal traders who will be affected by the Bulawayo City Council's move to turn into a mall Basch Street Bus Terminus, popularly known as Egodini, say the local authority has not widely consulted on the impact it will have on the livelihoods of residents in the face of massive de-industrialisation in the city.

The traders say hundreds of vendors will be left without any means of earning a decent living.

Speaking at a public meeting earlier today, as part of the Ideas Festival organised by Bulawayo Agenda, residents said council needs to take into consideration the impact of the relocation on informal traders.

They said although council will relocate some traders, this will be a small number since most of those plying their trade at this terminus do not even have council vending licences.

The council will be turning the Basch Street Terminus into a mall and a regional transport hub after awarding a $59 million tender to a South African civil engineering company, Terracota Private Limited.

Informal trader, Edward Ndlovu, said vendors have no job security and therefore any loss of income will prove devastating to families who entirely depend on informal trading.

Barbara Tanyanyiwa is a provincial executive member of the local chapter of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. She said half of those who are considered to be employed in the country are informal traders and as a result, there is need for government and local authorities to ensure that they are protected.

She added that in most instances, whole families are in informal trading, which means that if there is need for relocation as in this case, families’ livelihoods are destroyed.

She said although the government includes informal traders in employment statistics, this is not evident when workers’ rights and security are discussed.

Bulawayo Agenda executive director, Thabani Nyoni, said the issue of the relocation of informal traders from Basch Street Bus Terminus needs to be discussed so that a solution is found for addressing the concerns of local people.

Nyoni said his organisation is committed in providing space for residents and citizens to discuss issues of governance and livelihood and they are proud to present the Ideas Festival which is running for the sixth year.

The Ideas Festival is running until November 2nd. Bulawayo Agenda will also be hosting a peace conference tomorrow and another public meeting on de-industrialisation on Friday.

The festival is running under the theme “Re-imagining a Republic of Ideas’.