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BCC to reverse decision to close 5th Avenue market

by Staff reporter
04 Feb 2024 at 12:35hrs | Views
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) will this week deliberate on a move that is likely to see the reversal of a resolution to shut down vending activities along 5th Avenue and opening the road to vehicular use.

The move, which was done as part of Covid-19 intervention measures in June 2020, had been met with resistance from the informal traders who were constantly involved in running battles with municipal police, with some even taking the local authority to court challenging the move. However, according to a council report, the local authority seems to have given in to the informal traders and will now give them the green light to operate on the street.

"The opening of 5th Avenue to traffic was done in line with guidelines for the resilient food supply chain management system as directed by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Resettlement. Despite the fact that this whole process was consultative, disgruntled informal traders took the matter to court. The court dismissed their application and upheld the council's resolution of opening the road for vehicular traffic. In light of the decentralisation strategy, council created vending bays in the suburban areas with safe markets initiatives being implemented. This strategy led to the construction of Nkulumane District Shopping Centre Fruits and Vegetable wholesale market," reads the council report.

It is further reported that there had been an application from informal traders to close off 5th Avenue for informal trading activities. According to the report, the local authority has drawn up four options, which were informed by the need to strike a balance among a multifarious use, which are parking, informal trading and vehicular traffic and the property owners.

"Option one would maintain the existing bays prior to Covid-19 and leave the planning area with 880 informal trading bays complemented with one riding lane with parking bays to the northern side. This option would accommodate all the users including property owners even from the southern side would be able to park their vehicles in close proximity to their working spaces. The second option left the planning area with 952 informal trading bays occupying parking bays on both ends of the planning area. This would leave the area with two riding lanes, however, without parking bays. The challenge with this option was that property owners from both the northern and southern side would not have access to parking," reads the report.

The third option left the planning area with two riding lanes and parking bays to the north but with 500 informal trading bays. This option would accommodate all the users including property owners even from the southern side would be able to park their vehicles in close proximity to their working spaces.

"Option four would maintain the status quo of opening up 5th Avenue to vehicular traffic without any consideration to informal trading activities. This option, though ideal for city management would not solve the current impasse of accommodating informality in the city," reads the report.

Further, the local authority is establishing a new informal traders site on the corner of Second Avenue and Lobengula Street which is expected to complement the 5th Avenue market, with council management recommending option three for adoption by the councillors.

"All the options could be complemented with opening a new site. A new site had been identified and approved on 2nd Ave/Lobengula Street to accommodate 700 bays. Town planning was tasked with ensuring that the city was not only resilient to past external shocks like pandemics but also against the unknown. It therefore sought to strike a balance among various users of the city. From a town planning perspective, option three left Bulawayo more resilient and better prepared for any pandemic. This option was a compromise in view of the enforcement challenges and demand for vending bays within the area," reads the report.

Last week the local authority gave informal traders until Friday to move to designated vending bays and pay for their licences or risk losing their wares. The city has more than 5 000  informal traders dotted around the Central Business District (CBD).

Source - The Sunday News