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Vendors reject BCC proposal to hike fees

by Staff reporter
16 Apr 2019 at 06:50hrs | Views
INFORMAL traders and transport operators in Bulawayo yesterday rejected a proposal by the Bulawayo City Council to raise vending licence and other council fees by 56 percent, saying they can only afford 15 percent.

During a consultative meeting with council officials over the proposed increase in rates and tariffs yesterday held at the Large City Hall, Streetwise Informal Traders Association director Mr Percy Mcijo told council officials that the proposed 56 percent hike was too high for informal traders.

"We understand that an increase in council fees is required but 56 percent is on the high side considering the difficulties that people are already facing in paying their dues not only to the council but other service providers.

"We therefore propose that the city council reviews the 56 percent downwards maybe to 15 percent. This is what our street vendors can afford for now," said Mr Mcijo.

He suggested that council should cut down on its expenditure instead of passing the burden to traders who are already struggling to pay the current rates.

"Government talked about austerity measures. Council could also cut down on expenditure to try and manage the situation, while providing services to its residents.

"The city council can also come up with mechanisms to ensure that all traders are regularised and pay council fees. There's a lot of money out there. If council widens its coverage it will definitely increase revenue without necessarily burdening those who are already paying," said Mr Mcijo.

Mr Effie Ncube, the advocacy and campaigns advisor for the National Consumer Rights Association said while it was important for council to increase rates and tariffs, it would be difficult for people to pay.

"This move will just leave people in debt because they won't pay, not because they don't want but because they can't afford.

"The city council, could therefore try other avenues such as strengthening its fight against corruption and improve revenue collection. For now the best is to wait until the situation normalises," said Mr Ncube.

The council's finance director Mr Kimpton Ndimande said the proposal to increase tariffs was necessitated by the increase in the price of fuel, water chemicals based on the exchange rate, prices of goods pegged at parallel market exchange rates and lack of foreign currency.

"These are some of the significant factors that forced the council to propose an increase in rates and tariffs. Prices of water chemicals increase everyday according to foreign currency rates. It's therefore necessary for us to increase tariffs. "We'll combine outcomes from all wards and come up with way forward," said Mr Ndimande.

Council has also proposed to increase rates by more than 100 percent, which some residents rejected saying they are already struggling to pay their bills.  

If approved, residents in high density suburbs will pay at least $40,70 monthly - assuming they use water within rationing limits - up from about $20,29 while residents in medium density suburbs will pay $70,99 up from $35,61 per month.

Source - chronicle