The challenge facing Zimbabwe’s towns and cities today is maintaining orderliness especially within the Central Business District (CBD). Many vendors are operating on pavements and some even block entrances to retail outlets within the CBD.
In some cities and towns the situation has become so chaotic that it is now a threat to operations of businesses within the CBD. There is therefore an urgent need for municipalities to bring order in their respective cities or towns. The obtaining situation is also a recipe for disaster as it promotes the outbreak of diseases.
Many towns and cities are therefore sitting on ticking time bombs and hence the need to urgently address the problem. We appreciate that many people have been forced to join the informal sector by the shrinking job market and as such there has been a sharp increase in the number of vendors operating in the CBDs of towns and cities.
The challenge to local authorities is ensuring that these vendors operate from designated areas as opposed to what is happening. Councils should take heed of President Mugabe’s call to rid the streets and pavements of these illegal vendors to allow for the free flow of vehicular and human traffic in the CBD.
President Mugabe said he was alerted to alarming state of Harare City recently when he was told vendors had virtually taken over streets such as Julius Nyerere Way and Robert Gabriel Mugabe. Cde Mugabe said he was told that the roads in the CBD had been rendered impassable by vendors.
The President said the vendors cannot be allowed to sell their wares everywhere as this causes chaos within the CBD. We cannot agree more with Cde Mugabe on this issue which we hope councils will urgently address. Bulawayo is among the few local authorities that have managed to maintain some order within the CBD but there are some few areas where vendors are blocking entrances to retail outlets.
Vendors in these areas need to be moved to designated areas. The situation in cities such as Harare, Gweru and even in small towns such as the mining town of Shurugwi is just terrible and the councils really need to work hard to clean the CBDs.
The vendors should be moved to designated areas and councils should take punitive action against those that decide to be defiant. We cannot put the residents’ lives at risk as a result of vendors who operate at undesignated areas with no toilets and other facilities such as running water.
Retail outlets operating within the CBD have been shortchanged by vendors who are inconveniencing their customers. We know that many of these vendors are fending for their families from the little they realise from selling their wares but they should operate from designated vending areas.
The people that want to buy from these vendors will obviously follow them to the designated places so there is no justification to congest the CBD and cause chaos as is the case in many towns now. We want to once again call on the local authorities to act now and bring sanity to their respective CBDs before it is too late.
The businesses in the CBD are paying rates and other service charges so they deserve to operate in a conducive business environment. President Mugabe has said the councils could enlist the services of the Zimbabwe republic Police to remove the illegal vendors from the CBD.