Byo intensifies street vendors crackdown

BULAWAYO - Bulawayo City Council this week renewed a push to relocate illegal sidewalk vendors to sanctioned markets.

The city says the goal is to make sure that vendors are selling their wares in safe and legal spaces.

Acting town clerk Sikhangele Zhou said the city stepped up its efforts this week to move vendors to designated markets across the city.

More officers are patrolling the busy central business district, deterring people from setting up illegal vending sites.

She said vendors had been given up to the end of November to vacate the streets.

“Further to our initial notice to you on August 7, 2015, the public is hereby advised that there will be a blitz on all illegal vending activities as from December 1, 2015,” she said in an advisory.

“As such, illegal vendors are strongly warned to desist from trading in undesignated areas as council will prosecute all offenders.”

The push began on Tuesday. The initial crackdown followed a government directive to decongest the CBDs across the country.

That crackdown was halted in August by Bulawayo Mayor Martin Moyo, who cited the need to carry out wide consultations and create enough space to relocate the vendors.

Moyo was not immediately available for comment yesterday.

The Daily News witnessed four council UD trucks and two small pick-ups full of municipal police making constant raids on some busy vending spots in the CBD.

Some vending spots were clearly deserted while others were playing cat-and-mouse games with municipal police. Some would return to their vending spots when they deemed the coast clear.

Several vendors lost their wares. A visit to one of the busiest vending places in the city centre popularly known as Khothama, where second- hand clothes are sold, showed that everyone was on high alert, with vendors displaying a few items for sale which they could easily lift in case of danger.

The Daily News also learnt that as the crackdown intensified towards midday, vendors using their union structures were now updating each other using mobile phones on the whereabouts of the trucks which were constantly patrolling.

Some vendors who spoke to this paper vowed they would not be intimidated by the crackdown.

Bulawayo has more than    6 000 unoccupied vending bays, which remain deserted because traders complain of low customer volumes. Most of the bays are located in secluded areas.

The vendors also blamed some of the council employees for being corrupt in the allocation of the bays.

“Before they chase people, they should sit down with all the stakeholders and seek the way forward,” Reginald Shoko, the Affirmative Action Group president Matabeleland Chapter told the Daily News.

“The other thing is the designated places are far away from the market. The vendors saturate where the people are. Besides, the way they are doing it is inhuman, uncouth and barbaric and people need to understand that the economic situation in this country is what is pushing these people into vending.”

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