No going back on decongesting CBD: Council
Nqobile Tshili, [email protected]
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) says there is no going back in decongesting the city centre and has directed informal traders and taxi operators to move to newly upgraded Egodini Terminus and other designated places by the end of today or face punitive action.
The two-week ultimatum to informal traders and taxi operators lapses today and the council, working closely with the police, has vowed to restore sanity in the city centre, which has seen informal traders occupying most of the pavements, creating chaos and congestion.
The local authority in partnership with Terracotta Private Limited reopened Egodini Mall Taxi Rank on Monday but only a few commuters and transporters have complied while many informal traders are yet to occupy the new-look facility.
Council has allocated about 400 vending bays to informal traders to operate from Egodini, which had been defunct for eight years, as Terracotta struggled to rehabilitate the facility.
Yesterday the local authority said Egodini Mall Taxi Rank and Informal Traders Market phase one will be officially opened upon finalisation of the pilot process of relocation of taxi operators and vendors.
A Chronicle news crew observed that some commuters and kombis have started warming up to boarding transport at the refurbished taxi rank. Only a handful of members of the public and kombis were seen loading passengers and it is yet to be seen if, by the end of today, all of them will have moved to the designated places in line with council’s directive.
The news crew observed that informal traders are yet to occupy the allocated stalls, as some of them have raised concerns over what they regard as steep monthly rentals of about US$90.
The city remains chaotic with congestion still rife as most of the kombis were still picking up passengers in their previously designated and undesignated places.
Sections of Herbert Chitepo, Fort Street and 6th Avenue are still attracting a lot of kombis and pirate taxis, which will not be accommodated under the new regime.
By yesterday evening, the City Hall area was also still packed with vendors and kombi crews that had not heeded the council directive to move to the designated areas.
In a statement, Bulawayo mayor, Councillor David Coltart, said informal traders and taxi operators should move to the designated places by the end of today.
He said the council would further extend vending bays to 5th Avenue, 2nd Avenue, and Lobengula Street with vending bays being constructed to cover at least 1 200 vendors.
“As advised in our earlier notice dated Sunday, 28 January 2024 we expect all taxi operators and informal traders to have moved to designated vending sites and designated taxi ranks by the end of the day, Friday, 9th February 2024,” said Clr Coltart.
He said taxi operators and informal traders have gradually moved to the Egodini Mall Taxi Rank and Informal Traders Market, with more expected to occupy spaces as engagement with them continues.
Clr Coltart said the council is working on enhancing enforcement measures to ensure that members of the public use the designated taxi rank.
“The Egodini Mall Taxi Rank and Informal Traders Market (Phase 1) has availed 400 bays currently and is further expected to avail 767 more bays in the future bringing the number of bays to 1 167 in total,” he said. “The verification process for informal traders at the Egodini Mall Taxi Rank and Informal Traders Market (Phase 1) has been finalised with all 400 available bays now allocated,” said Clr Coltart.
He said informal traders who were relocated from Egodini and are on council’s registry were prioritised followed by informal traders who are on the waiting list.
Clr Coltart said demand for vending bays has been very high while council is working on decongesting the city.
“To date, there has been a spillover where people have signed for the next batches of vending bays. The City of Bulawayo has got a deliberate policy to deliver safe work spaces and settle informal traders to decongest the city,” said Clr Coltart.
He said the decongestion policy would see some of the vendors being relocated to suburban areas while also establishing markets in Western areas such as the Nkulumane Safe Market at Nkulumane Complex, which is almost complete.
Clr Coltart said vending bays in the Western areas allow proximity to the markets and reduce operating costs as the city is sitting on 10 000 informal vending bays and operators should regularise their operations by registering with the council’s Basch Street office.
“The city has also designated 2nd Avenue and Lobengula Street as a designated informal trading site with approximately 700 bays earmarked and these are currently under construction,” he said.
“The City of Bulawayo is also in the process of developing and decongesting 5th Avenue where a further ± 500 bays will be established,” said Clr Coltart.
He said the council will not hesitate to enforce its by-laws to ensure that those deviating from laid down procedures are dealt with.
Clr Coltart expressed gratitude to the city’s residents who have started to comply with its directive and decongestion plan.
“We thank the residents of Bulawayo for adhering to our by-laws and operating from designated vending areas. The city remains committed to improving livelihoods by providing appropriate working spaces for the informal sector,” he said.
“Traders operating outside the confines of the city’s by-laws will be dealt with accordingly,” said Clr Coltart.
“The City of Bulawayo is on high alert for the prevention and mitigation of cholera and efforts continue to be intensified to improve overall sanitation in the city. We urge all traders to operate from designated sites and maintain high levels of sanitation.”