THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) says it is still battling to control illegal vendors as they continue to flood the central business district, defying the Covid-19-induced restrictions.
Despite authorities putting up measures in all vending bays to prevent the spread of the virus, the illegal vendors are shunning these places to set their stalls across the city, with council officials now resorting to early morning raids.
Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) executive director Michael Ndiweni, however, said that their members were going through a tough time owing to vending space shortages.
“The challenge is that there is a slow process by BCC in creating vending space, so traders are now moving back into the CBD, in the process creating congestion.
“So if the Egodini Mall was expedited and spaces made available, we were going to see less people coming into the CBD.
“It’s sad we have seen the crackdown by BCC on informal traders and their goods being confiscated,” Ndiweni said.
Last year, the local authority announced that it was creating more vending bays to encourage social distancing, at the same time decentralising the trade in the face of Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the process has been very slow with the city fathers citing lack of resources.
In a bid to save the situation, Ndiweni said they have since engaged the city fathers through the Bulawayo Informal Sector Working Group, “to try and negotiate the working spaces for traders”.
“We have also been carrying out an awareness campaign to the informal traders urging them to use designated areas to do their business,” he said.
Bulawayo deputy mayor Mlandu Ncube yesterday said the construction of vending bays was yet to be complete, but could not give timelines on when it would be finalised.
“It’s a quite a challenge that we are facing as a city, especially during this time of Covid-19.
“But we have no choice, we are continuing to enforce the by-laws so that people can trade in designated areas only.
“At the same time we are trying to ensure that people observe Covid-19 protocols. We can’t allow the city to be turned into a juggle.
“However, we are also working flat out to create more vending areas as part of our plans to ensure better trading in compliance with Covid-19 regulations,” Ncube told Daily News yesterday.