CBD Trading Market dillema

Posted On Monday, 04 February 2002 03:01 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Johannesburg officials say unmanaged traders cause chaos and cost millions in cleaning-up bills 

Edmund EliasBeneath the blue roof of the Hillbrow Hawkers Market a group of angry hawkers many of them concerned mothers who have been left without a source of income clustered amid the fruit and clothing sellers for a crisis meeting.

Edmund Elias of the Gauteng Hawkers Association, large, grey haired and fiery, denounced the 'arrogant and authoritarian' ways of the metropolitan trading company and demanded they account for the R5m they had spent on the market. 'They haven't given us a market, they've given us rubbish,' he shouted.

Mannetjie Solomon, head of the Gauteng association, gave a speech of sincere disgust mixed with struggle rhetoric and announced the plans for the hawkers to begin a programme of 'mass action' on February 20 in protest against the market.

Last week, Hillbrow hawkers' associations held the crisis meeting to complain about conditions at the Hillbrow Hawkers Market, which opened last December, and to protest that hundreds of street traders have been forced off the streets by police and now have no trading posts.

The issue was similar to the problems that faced the Yeoville market, which opened in 1999.

It raised serious questions about how city councils should deal with street traders. Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town are all in the process of trying to formalise the informal sector.

In Hillbrow, according to the Hillbrow Berea Hawkers Association, hundreds of hawkers have been left without any means to make a living either because they could not afford the rental of the markets, or their incomes had dropped substantially since entering the markets. 'I have people coming to me on a daily basis, crying,' said Stuart Munn, chairman of the association.

'The market has brought us nothing but grief.'

Elizabeth Macheke and her sister sell vetkoek. Before they moved into the Hillbrow market, they said they were earning R60 to R80 a day. Now, in the market, they said, they were earning about R7 a day.

'We don't have money to pay our rent now,' Macheke said.

Muza Dlamini, a former cigarette and cosmetic seller in Hillbrow, who has given up his trade says: 'The most heartbreaking issue is they're victimising people who are doing an honest living on the pavements.'

The Hillbrow and Yeoville markets are part of a broader initiative to formalise trading in the central business district.

In July, the Metro Market is scheduled to open in Newtown, with space for 600 traders. 'The city took a view for investment, there has to be a managed trading policy,' said Sol Cowan, member of the mayoral committee's inner city portfolio.

Unmanaged hawkers created chaos and cost the city millions of rand in cleaning up refuse, Cowan said.

He said that the markets were in 'very advantageous areas' and that there had been a request by business and residents to manage the hawkers in city areas.

Bill Lacey, a consultant to the SA Chamber of Business, said 'business would like a managed structure, which doesn't accord well with the informal sector'.

There was increasing antagonism between hawkers associations and the Metropolitan Trading Company, the company responsible for the building and managing of hawkers' markets.

Themba Ncusana, chairman of the Yeoville Market Traders' Association, said: 'The (Metropolitan Trading Company) has its own agenda the agenda of making money out of us.

'People are tired. All that has been promised has not been done,' he said.

Ncusana said that hawkers had experienced problems such as flooding and buildings with cracks. He also said that business was still bad in the market.

The Hillbrow hawkers also complained about conditions at the Hillbrow market, saying there were not sufficient water, toilet and storage facilities and that the open-air stalls were just painted markers on the street and were in the line of storm water.

The Gauteng Hawkers Association said there were 15000 hawkers in the Johannesburg central business district alone, and the markets cater for only a marginal number of these.

Keith Atkins, CEO of the Metropolitan Trading Company, said the facilities at the markets were adequate and the complaints were being addressed.

Cowan said: 'Their biggest problem is they don't want to pay rent, which is unacceptable.' The problems that have surfaced confront most SA cities.

In Durban, the council had designated certain areas for street traders. In these areas, they had built various structures and charged the traders a nominal rent. However, the relationship between the hawkers' organisations in Durban and the city council was much stronger than that in Johannesburg.

In Cape Town, surveys conducted by the Cape Town Partnership, a formal partnership between governmental and private interests, showed that city users 'would be happier with traders in markets', said CEO Michael Farr.

Members of the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department baton-charged hundreds of angry hawkers yesterday after the traders demanded the return of their confiscated goods.

About 400 hawkers were protesting against their goods being confiscated in the central business district at the weekend.

Elias said the protest, which occurred at the police headquarters in Loveday Street, had been peaceful. 'They (hawkers) were refused entry (into the offices) and accused of gathering illegally. All they wanted was their confiscated goods back.' He said it appeared that some hawkers had been injured during the charge.

Police spokesman Supt Wayne Minnaar confirmed that the crowd was baton-charged in order to disperse them, but he was not aware of any injuries. He said that at least one hawker had been arrested for assaulting an officer. Sapa.


Last modified on Monday, 19 May 2014 12:15

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