Consider our plight: Vendors

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By Tatenda Gapa

VENDORS in Harare’s Central Business District (CBD) have appealed to Government to consider their plight before removing them from their current operating sites as vending is presently their only source of livelihood.
Last week, Government ordered the removal of all vendors operating from illegal sites.
Most of the vendors are operating from road pavements, traffic intersections, road islands, middle of the road and in front of shops and offices.
This has caused a public outcry as the flow of traffic is disrupted and has made it difficult for authorities to clean up the city and restore the capital’s Sunshine City status.
However, vendors appealed to Government not to be rush in its decision as there were factors that needed to be straightened before they leave their current operational sites.
For instance, the vendors appealed for a review of the rates charged at the designated areas.
Harare City Council has reportedly availed vending sites that can accommodate about 6 000 informal traders.
Investigations revealed that some of the sites were run by private operators who have erected stalls and are charging what have been described as ‘business destroying’ rates.
“For example, here at Fourth Street there are stands that were constructed by a company called Grassroots and it demands US$8 per day while city authorities demand US$3 for the same stand,” said one vendor, Tawanda Mudimbu.
Another vendor, Chipo Dzenga, said they were ready to move to the designated sites provided the issue of rates was addressed.
The exorbitant charges, she said, chewed the meagre profits made.
“We are not refusing to move, but we cannot pay the money charged by land barons because it is higher than the money we earn on a daily basis,” Dzenga said.
Vending, she said, was her only source of livelihood and erosion of profits would have a serious impact on her life.
“My four children need to be clothed, fed and their school fees has to be paid as well and I require money for rent,” said Dzenga, who has been a vendor for the past 13 years.
It is not a secret that the illegal Western imposed sanctions resulted in the collapse of industry in the country subsequently leading to an increase in the unemployment rate.
However, due to the successful Land Reform Programme, some have delved into farming which has become a source of commodities such as fruits and vegetables being sold in the streets by vendors.
The vendors in Harare said that some of the designated sites were far from potential customers.
“Some of the sites where they want us to move put us far away from the people who are the consumers of the wares we are hawking,” said Dzenga.
On accusations of littering the CBD, Dzenga said vendors were actually on the forefront of promoting cleanliness.
“We clean after our operations every day,” she said.
“It is people that buy products in packages like cans, plastics and kaylites who throw litter everywhere.
“We actually pick up their litter as it is in the areas that we operate in.
“We do not want to engage in running battles with the authorities.
“That would compromise our lives as well as the state of the city.”

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