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Friday Sep 21, 2012

'Modern' stalls for Pretoria street traders

Tshwane mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa yesterday unveiled a draft agreement to provide qualifying street traders with "modern" stalls. The city would put aside R10 million for the project, he said.

The decision comes after months of protests by informal traders who had been frequently and forcefully removed from the streets by metro police.

Ramokgopa said the protests were due to poor communication between the city and traders. He acknowledged the city's improper approach and assured informal trade representatives that the removals were not meant to be malicious but were for the decongestion of pavements and for sanitation purposes.

"[Informal traders] are honest men and women who are trying to put food on the table and put their children through school," Ramokgopa said.

He said they contributed R600 million to the R2 billion turnover the Tshwane Fresh Produce Market made annually.

The move to provide the stalls is seen as a way of boosting lower levels of the city's economy.

Another idea the city proposed was that goods at the market be packaged before being sold to the traders so they wouldn't have to package them on the street.

Ramokgopa said they were looking at giving the traders rights to clean the city as well. He made it clear that they would not be employed by the municipality, but said the initiative would assist in keeping the city clean.

For this to happen, the traders would have to form a consortium that would oversee the cleaning process. Ramokgopa offered office space at the municipal building for the consortium to work in once it is formed.

He said the council had taken into account the traders' needs and demands. One of the demands was that, if relocated, they be placed in a location that a lot of people pass through.

In the first phase of the project, the city will aim to build stalls on Sisulu (Prinsloo) Street towards the northern end of the city from Madiba (Vermeulen) Street. Helen Joseph (Church) Street will get stalls between Lilian Ngoyi (Van der Walt) and Thabo Sehume (Andries) streets. The third location to be revamped in phase one is the northern end of Lilian Ngoyi Street.

The city estimates the first phase will be completed by the end of November, and the project will be fully implemented six months after.

Marabastad and the Bloed Street taxi rank will receive stalls in the second phase.

Secretary of the Tshwane Informal Traders Forum, Elliot Nkadimeng, said the proposed agreement was excellent.

"It shows that fighting for what you believe in can produce results. I don't think anyone (in our organisation) who wants to see development can be against it," he said.

Pretoria News

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