BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) has identified five fresh produce distribution hubs and new vending sites for 600 informal vendors who were affected by the closure of the 5th Avenue market place in the city centre. As part of a raft of measures in response to Covid-19, the council last month relocated vendors who operated vending stalls in the area and permanently closed the popular weekend Khothama Market to bring order in the city beyond the lockdown period. The areas that had previously been used as vending sites, were yesterday reopened for vehicular movement and these include 8th Avenue between Josiah Tongogara Street and Robert Mugabe Way, the portion of 5th Avenue between Robert Mugabe Way and George Silundika Street, the portion of 5th Avenue between George Silundika Street and Fife Street, the portion of 5th Avenue between Fort Street and Herbert Chitepo Street and the portion of 5th Avenue between Herbert Chitepo Street and Lobengula Street.
In an interview, BCC housing and community services director Mr Dictor Khumalo said the local authority has identified new vending sites at an area near Highlanders Sports Club along Masotsha Ndlovu Avenue including several shopping centres in both eastern and western suburbs.
Council has identified the initial six bulk delivery sites for fresh produce, which are ready to receive deliveries. These are Emganwini Mupedzanhamo, Tshabalala Market, Pumula Old Market, Magwegwe North Market, Cowdray Park Terminus Market and New Magwegwe Market.
However, there are other bulk delivery sites which have been identified but still require appropriate sanitary infrastructure or engagements with private owners before these markets become operational. These sites are Nkulumane Sekusile, Nkulumane Complex, Lobengula Konron Market, Burombo Beer Garden, Nkunzi Beer Garden, Luveve Terminus Site, Entumbane Complex, Entumbane Flea Market, Njube Market, Mabuthweni Market, Makokoba Market and Makokoba Efusini.
“We have identified new vending sites for the 604 informal traders whose vending stalls were removed from the traditional market area as part of interventions in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. We have identified an area near Highlanders Sports Club where some of these people will be accommodated and that place has been paved and toilets are now working with potable water, which are the requirements in response to Covid-19,” said Mr Khumalo.
He said traders operating at Lobengula Street will not be affected, but the council will do re-planning to ease congestion in response to the requirements of Covid-19.
“We want both traders and the generality of people visiting the vending site to be in a safe environment. They will be spaced accordingly so that traders and consumers are not congested. At the western areas all shopping centres as well as eastern areas have places that have been designated for vending purposes so that residents can access vegetables at their places of residence,” said Mr Khumalo.
“We are going to be allocating vending areas in shopping centres, we had 604 people who were trading at 5th Avenue that are affected and we know them. We will give them trading spaces closest to their places of residence. Linked to this move is food distribution hubs where vehicles distribute vegetables and the expectation is that we will direct them to these approved food distributing hubs.”
Mr Khumalo said council noted that there was an unnecessary movement of people congesting the central business district to buy tomatoes.
Pumula vegetable market
“Covid-19 has given us an opportunity to relook at our operations with a view to make sure people are not inconvenienced and that people don’t risk their lives by crowding in one place. We have decentralised our vending activities and those who were already at the western suburbs will be incorporated, but the only difference is that they will have to be licensed first and be regulated,” he said.
Bulawayo has a total of 144 vending sites with a capacity of 15 353 vending bays located in the city’s 29 wards.
In a statement yesterday, Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube said 8 465 of the available bays have been allocated while 6 888 remain vacant.
“However, six vending sites located in Ward 1, CBD, along 5th Avenue with a total of 1 062 bays have been abolished and relocated to other unallocated bays in other sites among the 29 wards. Furthermore, an additional 450 bays located at 8th Avenue, Tower Block Khothama weekend and holiday vending, have been abolished and relocated to suburban sites,” he said.
“It must be noted that the city is currently redesigning the rest of the vending bays to comply with Covid-19 health requirements including social distancing,”
Mr Dube said preference in the allocation of bays shall be given to licensed vendors trading in that particular vending site, licensed vendors displaced from abolished sites, vulnerable or disadvantaged members of the community such as child headed families, female headed families, widows and widowers.
Orphans, people living with disabilities, those who are unemployed, the elderly and terminally ill will also get first preference.
In Gwanda, vendors in the CBD were ordered to dismantle their stalls recently to make way for the disinfection exercise in the town.
The vendors have been operating from shacks along the Bulawayo-Beitbridge Road without water and sanitation facilities.
Gwanda Town mayor, Clr Jastone Mazhale said the municipality had taken advantage of the prevailing lockdown to relocate vendors that have been operating from shacks in undesignated points in the CBD as part of efforts to promote hygiene and sanitation in the town.
He said they had identified points in the CBD and business centres in the townships which will be turned into markets.
Clr Mazhale said there will be prescribed guidelines on the structures that will be mounted in these new vending points which will be prescribed by the Municipality of Gwanda.
In Gweru, the council, working with the district Covid 19 taskforce, has commended vendors who voluntarily removed their illegal vending stalls erected in the CBD.
Last week, council supervised the clearing of illegal vending sites at Kudzanayi Bus Terminus as well as at Kombayi Fresh Produce Market.
Before the Cabinet approved the clean-up of illegal structures in urban areas started, Kudzanayi Bus Terminus has more than 3 500 traders dealing in all kinds of goods posing a health hazard as the market was flooded with the majority not paying levies to the local authority.
Some had even occupied parking bays making it difficult for long distance buses to use the terminus.
As a result, most buses were now shunning the bus terminus depriving the local authority of potential revenue in parking fees.
Plans are already underway to set up new ablution facilities and vending stalls at both Kudzanayi Bus Terminus and Mtapa markets to prepare for returning traders.
Gweru mayor Councillor Josiah Makombe said they were taking advantage of the lockdown to adopt the smart city concept.
He said council, working with Government, had started setting up structures at Mtapa Market to accommodate over 4 000 traders.
“There will be structures set up at Mtapa Market using resources that we already have. Work has started at the site and we hope that we will be done to ensure that people occupy the place soon after the lockdown,” he said.
In Victoria Falls, the local authority recently enforced a roster system where vendors take turns to sell at the market as a way of enforcing social distancing and ensuring that the market is kept clean.
Vendors take turns to go to the market where they are encouraged to display their wares more than a metre apart.
Victoria Falls housing and community services director Mr Brian Nyamande said Victoria Falls will not be destroying any markets since there are no illegal vending stalls.
The chairperson of Chinotimba Tavern Market, Mr Lizwe Sibanda, said they had been ordered to abide by the lockdown rules to operate between 9AM and 3PM.
In Beitbridge, the local authority has taken advantage of the lockdown to reorganise all the vegetable and groceries and clothing markets.
Beitbridge Municipality’s environmental health officer, Mr Pio Muchena said they have come up with a standard stall which should be used by all the vendors when most markets reopen in line with lockdown guidelines.
He said apart from making the standard stalls mandatory they will continue enforcing the crowd control measures.
“Already we have asked the occupants to uproot the makeshift stalls and install the standard type we have prescribed. In addition, we will make sure there are less than 40 people occupying the market places,” he said.–chronicle.co.zw